Christmas in Bolivia

By: Kaitlyn Lueb

Christmas Eve

Most Bolivians are Catholic; therefore, they go to a Midnight Mass service (Misa de Gallo). At midnight on Christmas Eve, everyone gets together to set off fireworks while wishing each other a Feliz Navidad. Usually, families eat a main Christmas meal after the service. This meal is called "picana"; it is a stew or soup made with chicken or beef and is served with corn and potatoes. After the meal, some families exchange presents although it is very rare.


The Bolivians are discovering Christmas trees and they are becoming more popular in large towns or cities. There is also Nativity Scene decorations. The Nativity Scene includes Baby Jesus in the manger. The Baby Jesus is put in the manger after the Misa de Gallo.


In Bolivia, workers get paid X2 or X3 their normal pay if they work during Christmas! This method is called "El Aguinaldo". It is also a government law and the employers have to pay for this to be done. Also, some workplaces give out baskets (Canaston de fin de Ano) to their workers. These baskets include grocery items, bottle(s) of cidra (sparkling cider), sweet fruit bread, etc.


Exchanging presents in Bolivia are done in many different ways. Some people exchange right after the midnight dinner, some just exchange throughout the holiday and some don't even give any presents at all. Some children place their shoes outside their doors and wait for the Three Kings to bring their gifts during the night (basically our "Santa Claus").
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Comparison: How my family celebrates Christmas

  • We don't do fireworks
  • We exchange some presents on Christmas Eve but most on Christmas Day
  • We don't do a Nativity Scene
  • We don't eat soup or stew