Poinsettias and Pine Needle are Christmas Decorations in Guatemala

Poinsettias and Pine Needle are Christmas Decorations in Guatemala

Manolo and Carmen were reminiscing just the other day about the smells associated with the Christmas season in Guatemala. Pine needles have a very peculiar smell and indeed its smell its burnt in the Guatemalan collective memory of Christmas and birthdays parties. Flor de Pascua or poinsettias are a visual cue of the upcoming Christmas as well. Shops know this and they use pine needle and poinsettias among other Christmas decorations to reel in the customers; it seems to be working just fine in this shop.

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  • Claudia

    Rudy, I wish this site was scratch-n-sniff . . .
    cool pic, reminds of me of when I was little and my mom used to take us to the ‘centro’.

  • Sigh. I wish we could be there. Isn’t this the time of manzanilla as well? I remember manzanilla, pine needles, and the pascuas all over the place. At home, my mom used to use musgo and gallos, but not the roosters…the plants. We spent a Christmas in Antigua a few years back and aside from eating tamales (rojos y negros), hot cholate, sweet break and so on we also got the chance to be in town for the transformation the town undergoes. I especially remember the pine needles in La Fonda de la Calle Real and the angels lighting our way home.

  • Ida

    I became the abuela to an adopted Guatemalan boy this fall. We would like to start new (to us) Guatemalan traditions in his honor. I can make a bank of pascuas and use pine needles. I have a nativity set made in Ecuador and Guatemalan weavings. Manzanilla plants are, I think, called chamomile here and I have one little bundle. Does anyone know the English for musgo and gallos, the plant? Any other suggestions for a Guatemalan Christmas, decorations or food? Other tradtions?

  • Ida Congratulations on the addition to your family! Musgo is moss… I recall that in Guate the nativity set is adorned with green moss and/or with Spanish moss which is the white thing that hangs from the trees in certain Guatemalan forests. It is actually not a moss but a bromeliad (yes they are related to pineapples!). This is actually the same family as the “gallos”, which are mainly epiphytes, but I don’t know the species name or the common name in English.
    Yes, manzanilla is chamomile, and in Guate the little yellow fruits from the chamomile are laced together like a huge collar. However, I wouldn’t think about an authentic “Nacimiento” without the dyed saw dust. It gives it that carpentry shop smell to Christmas that I was just thinking about today and that it has not been mentioned here.
    Another nice tradition is the “Posadas” , tradition that is shared with Mexico and consists of a recreation of the search for a place to stay (to get “posada”) by Mary and Joseph. Other December traditions from Guatemala include the “Quema del Diablo” on Dec. 7th and the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12th (Rudy) I can feel a ChapiMex opportunity here ;-)). I bet Rudy must have some good photos on the archives of LAGDP from previous Decembers.

  • We call the poinsettia plant Julstjärna in Sweden. My family was in that line of business for many years. We still live next to the greenhouses that today are filled with some 30,000 poinsettia plants.

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  • Just a simple poinsettia plant and it changes the whole look of the photo 🙂