I hope I have emphasized enough on this blog the sheer amount of noise in Nicaragua. If not, let this post be your lesson.
Every December 7th, across the Catholic world, the Conception of Mary is celebrated. I’m not sure if we are celebrating her parents getting their holy on or the whole immaculate conception thing, but either way, Catholics, at least in Nicaragua, think it is a big deal (if it is the conception of Jesus by Mary and God, could someone knowledgeable let me know how she went from zero to 60 in just 18 days, the 7th to the 25th?).
My avid readers will remember the Gritería Chiquita back in August. December 7th is the main Gritería. Bigger and more raucous then the August brouhaha. I was at the Cathedral for the Cardinal giving his speech and then proclaiming the Gritería (Gritería literally means “the yell,” so this just entails the Cardinal shouting and everyone shouting the traditional response). Once the Gritería starts the church bells start ringing, city hall sets off a loud siren, the fireworks start, and the Gigantonas start dancing along with their drumline. All simultaneously. It is very very loud. I didn’t bring my camera, but it seemed that everyone else in the crowd did, so I wish I had my camera simply so I could take a picture of everyone else taking pictures and video. It was 21st century surreal.
La Gigantona (as poorly demonstrated in the video above) is a traditional dance performed in Nicaragua, especially León. The Gigantonas (tall puppets) represent the Spanish lady coming to Nicaragua, and El Cabezon (short guy with a big head) represents your short, but clever, native Nicaraguan. They are ubiquitous this time of year, with troupes of kids performing it on the streets every night for tips.
La Gritería is the biggest day of the year here in León and I can’t completely capture it here with words. It is a day completely driven by tradition. Food, activities, music, everything. And of course, it was loud. Firecrackers all day and all night!