News Track reports:
IN BOLIVIA, CHRISTMAS IS CELEBRATED FROM CHRISTMAS EVE UNTIL EPIPHANY
Most of the people of Bolivia are Catholic and several people go to a Midnight Mass service on Christmas Eve named the ‘Misa de Gallo’ (Mass of the rooster). At Midnight people like to let of fire-crackers! Families often eat the main Christmas meal after the Misa de Gallo. The traditional feast is ‘picana’, a stew/soup made from chicken, beef (or lamb) and pork which is served with potatoes and corn. There might also be salads, roast pork (lechón) or roast beef, and lots of tropical fruit.
After the feast families might change gifts, although present giving isn’t very common. Some people exchange presents at Epiphany, commemorating the Wise Men who brought presents to Jesus. Children also might get a set of new outfits in New Years. Nativity Scenes (‘pesebre’ meaning ‘stable’ or ‘nacimientos’ meaning ‘nativity scenes’) are quite common Christmas decorations in Bolivia. Churches often have large scenes outside them. The baby Jesus is put in the manger after the Misa de Gallo.
Christmas Trees are becoming more famous although often only in large towns and cities. For many poor people and often in rural areas, Christmas isn’t widely celebrated and it’s just a normal working day. In Bolivia, workers get double or three times the normal salary in December! This is called ‘El Aguinaldo’ and is a government law and has to be paid for by the employers. Many workplaces also give a ‘Canastón de fin de Año’ or ‘End of the year basket’ to their employees. It’s a large basket or container full of things like grocery items, a bottle of cidra (non alcoholic sparkling cider) and a panetón (sweet fruit bread).