She was telling me that they were surprised to see a rooster, the symbol of the local Gallo beer, on top of a big Christmas tree right in the centre of the city. Hmm, that seems a strange, but enlightened, symbol I thought to myself! Or just the worst kind of crass commercial exploitation.
Well it turns out that its nothing to do with the beer at all but the crowning moment of the celebration on Christmas eve when, at midnight, the Misa de Gallo, or mass of the Rooster, is celebrated. This mass is intended to honor a Guatemalan legend about a rooster who crowed at midnight when Christ was born.
I should have known better, shouldn't I!
Today the mass is celebrated with the arrival of the final procession, or posada, of the season, as local people come to honour the new-born messiah in his manger. There are traditional indigenous dances and music, while hugs of love and peace are shared throughout the congregation.
After the mass, the celebrants head off for a traditional meal, which varies according to the region. Christmas Day is quiet as everyone recovers and eats leftovers.