This Christmas, TreeCoin says “Feliz Navidad” and celebrates one of the most-anticipated events in Paraguay. Ever wonder why there are always smiles on our faces? At TreeCoin, we find the happiness in Paraguay to be truly infectious.
To us, It is of no surprise at all that Paraguay retained its label as The World’s Happiest And Most Positive Country in 2019 (Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Report).
Paraguayans are hard workers, and this perhaps makes it one reason why holidays mean even more to them. But with Christmas, where religion runs deep into the culture and way of life, few other occasions are as important or as significant.
And so, we share today just some of the unique ways that people in Paraguay celebrate Christmas.
1. Christmas is still pretty much old school
While many countries have adopted a more modern, commercial version of Christmas, the event in Paraguay continues to be more traditional. So instead of shopping sprees and mega-concerts, the local churches will put up light decorations and huge ornaments, typically centered around the birth of Christ and his teachings. Instead of sending Feliz Navidad greetings electronically, most people will still visit friends and family at close-knit gatherings and dinners.
2. Every home has a nativity scene
While the custom is less prevalent among more modern families, the nativity scene is still a big part of most homes in Paraguay. Called the Pesebre (manger), it starts in early December, with every member of the family involved in making a scene. According to popular folklore, it also protects families from harm.
One custom still practised is to stay up till midnight, visiting neighbors’ Pesebre. Young children will bring a present for baby Jesus, and even write letters to the wise men with their wishes for the new year.
Instead of Christmas stocking like in North America, Paraguayan children leave their shoes in front of the nativity scene, and on January 6, the three wise men leave presents for them!
3. Christmas is party time, but more importantly, family time
Paraguayan Ambassador to Korea Ceferino Valdez once tried to explain why Paraguayans are so happy. He described a quintessentially Paraguayan sentiment that one might refer to as “tranquilo pa”.
Tranquilo is Spanish for tranquility or calmness, while the Guaraní pa is an interrogative marker (sort of like, a completion to the phrase). Essentially, tranquilo pa cannot be defined but asks that life’s hardships be taken into context while ensuring one takes care of responsibilities. In other words, take it easy, and be good to friends and family.
Which explains why Paraguayans, no matter what else they plan for Christmas, always leave room for family.
4. Feliz Navidad! Swap your eggnog for Clericó
Anyone familiar with Hollywood Christmas films will recall how eggnog is a popular Christmas drink. These days, global coffee chains and candied drinks are even introducing mulled wine and toffee nut-flavored drinks.
But in Paraguay, everyone drinks Clericó for Christmas. Not unlike sangria, it is made with fruit, wine or soda and put into a bowl. At the stroke of midnight on Christmas, when the church bells ring, people will gather round for the La Misa del Gallo or the Mass of the Rooster. And then it’s time to drink Clericó!
5. In Paraguay, it smells of Christmas
Remember the nativity scenes found all over Paraguay? Decorating each Pesebre, normally, are hundreds of caranday poty flowers in bloom. Translated from Guaraní as “coconut blooms”, this particular flower is in full bloom throughout December and is used to line every nativity scene.
Because of the fragrant smell accompanying, people sometimes say: “Christmas in Paraguay is Christmas of the Coconut Flower.”
And there you have it! So the next time you come visit TreeCoin in December, make sure you tranquilo pa, check out the Pesebre, drink the Clericó, and smell the caranday poty!