We Wish You a Merry Souls Day

About two weeks ago, I walked into Dollar City to pick up some paint for a church project.  It was All Souls Day - the day on which Salvadoran families remember their beloved ones who have died.  I was caught off guard by the sound of organ music filling the air.  Within a moment, I turned to my husband and asked, "Is that Christmas music?"

Creepy Halloween appendages give way to boxes of
blue, red and silver ornaments in Aisle 1 at Dollar
City on All Souls Day
Beyond the orange, black and purple remnants of Halloween in Aisle 1, Dollar City had been converted to Christmas Town.  Salvadorans do have a love of Christmas chachkies - especially snowmen.  I asked a pastor friend today if El Salvador has a different tradition than Santa Claus (we happened to be grocery shopping together and paused to check out a row of Christmas stuff).  "Oh no," he said, "we have always had the tradition of the Santa of the United States.  It wouldn't make sense to have a different one."  He looked at me quizzically as I explained a couple of different European traditions.  Then I asked about all the snowmen.  "We just really like them," he said.

Red and green snowmen at the grocery store
Back at Dollar City, I scanned the line of people checking out in front and behind us at Dollar City.  A co-worker told me that All Souls Day is a good day for bargains on Christmas decorations.  She also told me that her family has never had a Christmas tree.  "We just don't do that at our house," she said. 

During the first week of November, the giant letters at Metro Centro transitioned before our eyes  from "La Palma Style" in honor of the recent passing of artist Fernando Llort, to candy canes and Santa Claus.  Lights wind around trunks of palm trees and hang from apartment balconies in the capital city and inside small homes in the countryside. 

Santa O at Metro Centro

Reindeer and Palm Trees
The most creative decorations we have seen in the past two weeks are located in the gardens at Vivero Café el Arco, a coffee and lunch place not too far from the La Laguna Botanical Gardens in San Salvador.  All of the decorations there, Christmas and otherwise, are created from recycled materials.  I gathered quite a collection of photos at the cafe and am hoping to recreate a few of these decorations as children's projects in our church's urban gardens back in the States.  Café el Arco is not only a great place for afternoon coffee and small meetings; it has a wide variety of plants for sale at a good price.

This Christmas tree is made from recycled water bottles which were
painted red on the inside

Nativity created from recycled bottles and cans
Animal snouts from 2 liter soda bottles.  The fur is created by cutting plastic
bottles into strips.

We popped into the UCA (University of Central America) bookstore this week where we discovered a Christmas promotion of a different kind.  Bibles were stacked to form a small Christmas tree, inviting patrons to give the gift of a Bible for Christmas.  (By the way, the UCA bookstore is a great spot to pick up English, Bilingual and Spanish books for children and adults.)

Bible Christmas tree at the UCA
To see a few pics from previous Christmas collections, check out 

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