Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In Venezuela, Christmas Pies Are Hallacas

Mary Granella / youthjournalism.org

Flowers adorn a family Christmas tree in Venezuela

By Mary Granella
Junior Reporter

VALENCIA, Venezuela – Christmas celebrations in Venezuela aren’t much different from other countries around the world.
Most people set up their own Christmas trees in their homes – some like getting a natural Canadian pine tree while others, like my family, own plastic trees.
People here use flowers, ribbons, bows, glitter, Christmas balls and stars to decorate their trees. Some of these are hand-made, especially since a majority of schools around the country make it mandatory for kindergarten classes to create their own décor to hang up on each kid’s family tree.
Huge trees are also set up and decorated all over town. They’re in shopping malls, bakeries, clothing shops and other places. The mall closest to my house set up a gigantic 85-feet tall Christmas tree right next to the escalators.
But the way we make Christmas our own is by cooking typical Venezuelan Christmas food.

Reporter Mary Granella with her family's nacimiento
One specialty is a stuffed type of pie known as “hallaca” that is filled with green olives, raisins, pork, chicken and beef. In some places, people even add beans.
There’s also the traditional chicken and potato salad, ham bread and ponche crema, a creamy liquor.
This year my family and I met to prepare hallacas, set up the Christmas tree and a “nacimiento,”which is a sort of statue representation of baby Jesus’ birth in the Bethlehem manger.
On the 24th, Christmas Eve, we’ll meet at my grandmother’s house for dinner and exchange presents at midnight. 

See more wonderful pieces in the Youth Journalism International ongoing series, Christmas Around The World. 

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