Christmas eve traditions in St Elena.
Celebrations begin late in the evening around 10 ish with the traditional burning of the bull (quemando del toro )in front of the church.
They don’t actually burn a bull! What it is, it’s a frame of fireworks made to represent a bull, sometimes they have a shape of a bulls head at the front sometimes you just have to imagine it.This frame is then held up by a fearless individual, usually wearing a wet t shirt so as not to get burnt. The fireworks are lit and the brave young man charges into the viewing crowd who run quickly for any kind of shelter they can find away from the exploding fireworks and the raging bull.
Meanwhile running around town giving out gifts was Santa Clause. He really seemed to be enjoying his role. I heard later that a gift was bought by the family for a child or children in the house. The gifts where all collected together, each one named, then Santa was given the help of more young ones and a truck, running around town to pass out the gifts to waiting children outside of their houses. Mixing old traditions with new!!!
After a short display of fireworks , the band strikes up and the procession begins. Descending the steps of the church , carrying the altar of baby Jesus, which was on display in the church, they walk through town. Banners in front the Altar and then the walkers carrying candles behind.
Baby Jesus will be taken to a family home where the altar will stay for two or three days . Usually these people have paid for the fireworks , musicians and food to feed anyone that passes by.
When all is done you see the families slowly making their way back home where they will dine with friends and relatives ,take a sip or two I’m sure and reminisce with the older ones, play with the children lasting at least til 4 am in the morning.