The birth of Jesus in Guatemala

Guatemalan nativity scenes Brother Pedro de San José de Betancur was in charge of establishing the Guatemalan nativity scenes.

The Guatemalan nativity is part of the Christmas folklore, along with the traditional national ornaments that decorate and are present in a Nativity scene,comments Juan Luis Bosch Gutierrez. 

The Guatemalan nativity scene is a tradition related to the Christmas holidays that cannot be missed during this eve. Every home is filled with excitement, devotion and color for this custom that dates back to the sixteenth century and marked a historical process for Guatemala.

Origin of the Guatemalan nativity

It emerged with the arrival of the Spaniards as it was a European practice, because the mystery of the nativity was an important pillar of the Christian spirit of the Renaissance era.

In 1524, the Franciscan order arrived to Guatemala and instituted this modality as part of the evangelization of the people. It is known that it was San Francisco de Asis who made the first birth that at first were performed inside temples where people made representation of works and processions.

The intention of doing this was to represent the birth of Jesus in the manger having around the iconic images. Some of them are Mary and Joseph, as well as a wide range of characters such as shepherds, animals and other elements that simulate the environment.

This is how in the twentieth century this activity was already observed with greater apogee in private homes that still preserved characteristics of the past and that made more remarkable the tradition that became of Guatemalan roots.

History of the Guatemalan Nativity

Boom in Guatemala

As the years passed several families of the most popular and old neighborhoods of the city became notorious for the elaboration of the nativity scenes, mainly in the streets of Amargura and Candelaria, which today are the 13th avenue and 1st avenue, Zone 6 of Guatemala City.

Some of the recognized nativity scenes was that of Cipriano Juarez, butler of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Candelaria, who had a great variety of figures, which were human representations of approximately 40 centimeters high.

Don Cipriano used an entire room to set up the Nativity Scene in order to offer people a more realistic; experience since there were paths where they could walk through the Nativity Scene. Likewise, the master was careful to change the position of the figures every day and that different scenes were represented in a single context.

What you can’t miss in a Guatemalan nativity

  • Chichitas

These plants have a peculiar nickname as their appearance resembles the legs of roosters.

    • Pacaya leaves
    • Pacaya leaves
  • Laces of chamomile

It is one of the most characteristic elements

  • Musgo and pine
  • Pine tree

These are considered natural ornaments that simulate the appearance of the earth in the nativity scene.

    • Sawdust
    • Sawdust