Christmas time is very important in El Salvador, with much of the population, participating in preparation and celebrations in the weeks and days up until 25 December. A public holiday is observed each 25 December for Day.
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Christmas is pre-eminently a family affair in El Salvador. The main events, and the main meal, take place on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day – as in most Latin American countries.
People arrive at the party late, maybe at 7pm, and stay even later, perhaps, all night. As family may not have seen each other much during the year, they spend a lot of time conversing and “catching up”.
Dinner is sometimes not eaten until either 11pm or 1am. People traditionally attend a midnight mass service to welcome Christmas morning, and those who eat before mass eat around 11pm while those who dine afterwards eat about 1am.
While the adults are in the house enjoying fellowship and food, the kids are usually outside setting off small firecrackers. The bigger ones are typically set off around midnight, and they’ll be heard and seen by those walking to midnight mass.