Navidad in El Salvador

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nativity scene pesebre navidad

I wanted to write this days ago, but time has been flying by so quickly during our stay in El Salvador. Well, quickly and not, since the days here feel longer because of the slower overall pace and the lackadaisical “la vida es playa” attitude with which life is lived here.

Christmas was all we wanted it to be: familia, amigos, warmth and great comida.

My sister’s husband–mi cuñado–has a very, very large family; he has 10 uncles and aunts and tons of cousins. Their tradition is for the whole family to meet early on Christmas Eve for a lunch and a visit from Santa Claus so that everyone can have the option to head out to their other Noche Buena dinners.

They invited us to be part of this and it was an amazing experience for Camila. I did have to explain why Santa Claus came early and brought her a gift she hadn´t asked for.

Later we changed to more formal clothes–as tradition dictates here–and headed back to my mom´s house for a much smaller gathering to have a traditional Noche Buena dinner of glazed ham, Salvadoran-style turkey, delicious layered rice (with creme and cheese!), yams and more.

The day before Camila had helped her abuelita put the finishing touches to the nativity scene while abuelita told her the story of the birth of baby Jesus. It was so beautiful to see them sharing that moment together and hear Camila asking her so many questions about the real meaning of Christmas.

On Christmas day one of my sisters (the other one is in NYC and was greatly missed!) and her family came over after we had all opened our Santa Claus gifts so we could all open the family gifts together. The tree was brimming with regalos for the kids and for each other, so the house soon became a chaos of wrapping paper and kids desperately trying to get their new toys out of their boxes.

Check out the slideshow below for some pictures from our first week and Navidad in El Salvador. It´s been everything I wanted it to be for Camila and I´m sure these moments will leave a lasting imprint in her cultural identity.

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