Explore El Salvador

For Tourists, By Travellers

Christmas in Saly

Like any country, El Salvador has its own unique traditions for the holidays.  We interviewed Erick, a young man from Santa Ana, and Gaby, a little girl from San Salvador to find out how their families celebrate Christmas so you can be ready for the holidays this December.

WTF: In El Salvador, Christmas is celebrated on December 24th not the 25th, right?

E: Christmas starts early on the 24th with lots of fireworks; the streets are filled with the remains of exploded crackers.

G:  My neighbor buys mortars and sets them off; I have to cover my ears the sound is so loud!

E:  On the 25th a lot of kids go out into the street and search through the debris for fireworks that haven't gone off yet.  Then they have more to light on the 25th.  But on the night of the 24th, we all have dinner together.  It's one of the few times of the year that my whole family eats together.

WTF:  And what's for dinner?

E:  Chompy Pollo! (chicken)  Or turkey if we have enough money, cabbage or pasta salad, bread and coffee or hot chocolate.  Dinner starts around 7 at my house.

G:  My grandma makes her famous beans with meat and everyone eats them with bread and cream.  That's the family favorite, but we also have turkey.

E:  The best tradition at Christmas is the pan con recauldo!  We take the juice from the chicken and recook it to make the flavor stronger.  Then we blend it with tomato, water, sesame seeds, onion, green peppers and spices and make sandwiches with cabbage or pasta salad and mayo on bread and drizzle the recauldo on top - it's soooo good!

G:  The recualdo usually lasts until the 15th of January, and we eat it on everything: eggs, rice, tortillas…

WTF:  So, what happens after dinner on the 24th?

E:  We drink and turn the music up really loud and dance! After midnight we go out and party with friends until 4 or 5 in the morning.  Don't expect to find many businesses open before midnight on the 24th.

G: We dance and wait for midnight.  At midnight, everyone gives a Christmas hug, we go out in the street to give hugs to neighbors and light more fireworks.  Also, Jesus was born on Christmas day, so the manger scene is always without a Baby Jesus until the 25th.  In our family, the youngest child gets to put the baby Jesus in his cradle when it's his birthday.  

WTF:  Brilliant!  Back home we just put baby Jesus in the manger scene all through December. Clearly, we're wrong. What about presents?

E:  For us, Christmas is more about spending time with family; we usually don't do presents.

G: My grandmother has 6 kids, so there's a lot of presents for all the kids.  The adults don't usually have very many though.  

WTF:  Thank you both for teaching us about your family traditions.  Anything else you want to share about Christmas here?

G:  Don't go to the supermarket on the 24th!  It's crazy!

E:  Feliz Navidad a todos!