Christmas in Bolivia

Harvest Festival - a sacrifice of food during ...

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Preparation for the birth of the Christ-child begins on December 1. Children gather flowers, particularly the pas­tora, the national flower and much like a poinsettia, in the mountain valleys, to decorate the Nativity scenes in home and church. In the churches, gold and silver figurines are used for the Nativity scenes. On December 24, people attend a midnight Mass or pray in their homes and place gifts about their sleep­ing children. In the towns and cities, Christmas celebrations last until January 6. The working classes participate less in these celebrations. The natives of Bolivia (50 per cent of the population) cele­brate Christmas more as a harvest festival. Thanks are given for completion of the year's work. Labor leaders give an ac­count of the work done during the year and propose what is to be done during the following year. Chiefs and tribes gather to organize their work. Christmas tends to become a feast of ado­ration of the Goddess Mother Earth, who is asked to bring a fruitful harvest, to keep away plagues, and to give a prosperous year, though these customs are frowned on by the authorities.

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