Celebrating La Purisima in Nicaragua

la_purisima_matagalpa“Here in Nicaragua,” says Sister Sandy Price, “the feast that is most celebrated is not Christmas but rather Purísima, the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.  It is a combination of Christmas, Hanukah, 4th of July and Halloween.”

It is celebrated for 9 days beginning on the 29 th of November and culminated on December 8th. The night of the 7th is called  “La Gritería”, (“The Shouting”).  The greeting during these days is “¿Quién causa tanta alegría?” and the response is “La concepción de María.”  (Who causes such joy?  The conception of Mary.)  A novena is prayed each day usually in different homes and gifts are given out to everyone present.

The traditional gifts are oranges, sugar cane, candies and a type of squash cooked in sugar syrup. Wealthier families give bowls, dishes, toys to children, small images of the Immaculate Conception.  There are fireworks and singing along with the prayers and often the rosary.  On the night of the seventh families put out altars to Mary in front of their homes and people go from altar to altar singing to Mary and after they sing the owner gives out gifts, just like Halloween.”