It’s Christmas Eve in Guatemala today and I thought to take a trip to the Mercado for some pictures. Antigua’s Mercado, our main market, has been buzzing with activity these past few days. I don’t find the Mercado as chaotic as diving into a shopping mall in the US during the last shopping days of Christmas season – not that I miss it.

I’ve definitely seen more people here during Holy Week than at Christmastime. I hear that Guatemala City’s traffic and shopping malls become unbearable during this time of year, another good reason to stay close to Antigua until the madness in the city dies down.

Aside from the decorations, Christmas trinkets and the sale of apples and grapes, the Mercado looks very much the same as it does throughout the year.

Antigua Guatemala Mercado

Antigua Mercado at Christmastime

Antigua Guatemala Mercado

Apples, Grapes, and Cider are Popular Christmas Items

Of more interest in this photo, an excursion was the temporary area set up specifically for Christmas items, which is where most people buy traditional items required to properly decorate a home.

It seems that most celebrations call for the use of colored sawdust, which is prominent in the creation of “alfombras“, or flower carpets used during religious processions. But colored sawdust also makes its way into nativity scenes and other decorations. A bag of colored sawdust sells for Q1.

Antigua Guatemala Christmas

Colored Sawdust

Antigua Guatemala Market

Young Child Selling Sawdust

Antigua Guatemala Mercado

Sawdust Seller Hoping for a Last-Minute Bump in Sales

Another peculiar item is garlands made of manzanilla, literally meaning “little apple”, and known as tejocote in Mexico. These fruits grow in the wild and are collected at the slopes of Agua Volcano, near the town of Santa Maria de Jesus. These fruits are eaten preserved in honey.

During Christmas time, however, the tradition is to string long garlands and let them dry out. Its scent and that of pine needles are very much what Guatemalans associate with Christmas. Manzanilla garlands are typically hung on doors, windows, and Christmas trees. Learn more about manzanilla here.

Mazanilla Navidad Guatemala

Manzanilla Stand

Mazanilla de Guatemala

Manzanilla Garland

The Christmas section of the Mercado is fairly small when compared to the rest of the market. The section consists of less than 10 rows and most of the merchandise is fairly similar, making comparison shopping painless.

Antigua guatemala Christmas

Antigua Mercado Christmas Section

Antigua Guatemala Christmas

Antigua Mercado Christmas Section

Antigua Guatemala Christmas

Antigua Mercado Christmas Section

This is one of my favorite decoration items – corn husk sheep:

Antigua Mercado Christmas

The items for sale are interesting. If you’d like to see them, check out this gallery below:

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What’s your favorite Christmas tradition

in Guatemala?