Although there are similar occasions to a U.S. Christmas – such as Black Friday, decorating the Christmas tree and giving gifts – there are definitely differences in how Honduras celebrates the Christmas holiday.
We gather our families together at midnight on Dec. 24 to welcome Christmas Day with a big meal. There are all kinds of Christmas foods, including: torejas, nacatamales, seeded red grapes and red apples. After the meal, we share gifts before going to bed sometime before dawn.
Spending time with our families is an important part of the holiday, but also our Church family. Around midnight everyone texts each other to wish a “Happy Christmas” with a deep focus on marking the occasion to remember the birth of Christ into the world.
Common gifts look similar in the U.S., but definitely include (if possible and if nothing else) a new set of clothes to show off to everyone in the family and the neighborhood. That being said, for many, marking the holiday spiritually is all they can do. A new shirt and pants, fireworks, even just an apple or bunch of grapes are out of reach for many people in Honduras. For some of the people we work with, the small gifts we can give them are the only gifts they will receive.
But for all of us, the greatest and most important gift we will ever receive is what we mark on that day. Jesus came into this world to live a life we could not – in obedience to the law and sacrificing Himself for our sins. Our “Thanks be to God” is one thing we all have in common no matter where we are in the world!