Nicaragua traditions & culture
As a multicultural country with great enticing history, the cultures and traditions in Nicaragua differ quite significantly from one another depending on what type of foreign influence they had in the past. The western part of the country was a colony of Spain and owns a similar culture to other Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. The eastern part has more of British influence mixed with African custom, which resemble to the adjacent Caribbean countries. These differences do not come close to be called shortcomings; in fact, they are what make Nicaragua one of the most interesting countries to visit.
Since Catholicism is widely embraced by the Nicas, with some in the eastern part taking Protestant as their religion, Christmas and Easter as well as La Purisima are celebrated big time in Nicaragua. During Holy Week (Semana Santa), most of the Nicas will flock the churches to follow Easter masses and the streets are decorated with bright vibrant colors depicting religious symbols. The other main religious event, La Purisima, is a week of festivities held in early December to observe the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is celebrated for one whole week where altars to the Virgin Mary are constructed in homes and workplaces.
With most Nicas practicing Catholics, Saints have been such an inspiration in Nicaragua's festivals and events.
Each city has its own Santo Patrono or Saint Leader elected during the colonial time. They then hold festivities called Fiestas Patronales to throw an honor to their specific Saint. These festivities can last for days and when it is the season, the town will be packed with people dressed in colorful clothes singing and dancing the day and night away with loud folkloric parades, songs and rodeos. The parades feature horses, big and small, dressed elegantly as their masters in cowboy look guide them. There are also wooden arenas that display the bull-riding show while the local musical band, Chicheros, plays in the background. It is really nothing short of amusement at this festival.
Nicaragua has long been more fascinated in poetries rather than in fine arts. The most respected poet is Ruben Darío (1867-1919) whose works were highly regarded as one of the pioneers in Modernism and are reproduced in many languages in the world.
Nicaraguan music is a nice blend of the indigenous tribes, European and African influences. Marimba, one of the traditional musical instruments made with hardwood plates over bamboo or metal tubes, is played on the lap of a sitting performer along with other instruments like bass fiddle, guitar and guitarrilla (small guitar). In the east, the music belongs to the dance genre and is popular for its lively and sensual rhythms. It is especially loudly performed during Palo de Mayo festival in May in Bluefields.
In the pacific, the dances display a lovely mix of the indigenous tribes and Spain. With local traditional flute and drum playing in the background, energetic dancers dressed in Spanish outfit never fail to enchant the audience. The renowned dances in this region are called Toro Huaco, Güegüense or Macho Ratón.