Christmas in Nicaragua
Christmas in Nicaragua resembles Christmas elsewhere in that it varies much with the individual and family. For some it is deeply religious, for others it is a more secular holiday that provides an excuse for family gatherings, and for others still it`s a giant exercise in hyper-consumerism.
You see some families sponsoring prayer sessions in their homes or yards and people going to services in their church or cathedral. People often travel from across the country or from abroad to visit relatives. Big family dinners are a big part of these reunions. Downtown is crowded with both vehicles and pedestrians, and here in Esteli they give a lot of publicity to extended business hours at the stores. Firecrackers and public drunkenness also somehow fit into the celebrations.
The biggest difference I noticed from Christmas in the United States is that Christmas dinner here is a rather informal thing that takes place at midnight on the 24th instead of a formal dinner on the afternoon of Christmas day. I`m sure it varies from family to family, with the Evangelicals being the odd man out because they don`t drink, but Christmas here seems like a drunken wingding like New Years in the States. Many people stay up drinking heavily, often with the women talking in one part of the house and the men drinking in another.
New Years has its parties, too, but I think a little tamer than in the United States--probably too soon after the big Xmas blowout.
On the practical level, taxis and international buses are running, but ordinarios and expressos will be shut down for one day. These buses will also tend to be humongously crowded before and after the holiday. Here in the North, some restaurants and hotels will be closed for the 24th and 25th. Banks will be shut and very crowded before and after. Government offices are shut down for many days and will be semi-functional when they reopen.
December is a good time to travel in Nicaragua because the weather tends to be pleasant--cool, sunny, and calm. Just have your reservations and try to be in place before the holiday rush.