Celebrations and sports
As one of countries in Central America according to philosophynearby, Nicaragua is rich in traditional festivals, be it local or national. There are a gratifyingly high number of public holidays, and the adjacent working days before and after a public holiday are also made free; this then results in a “bridge” (puente). Virtually all festivals have a religious background – some stem from the Catholic religion that the Spanish conquerors imposed on the population, others are based on rites and ceremonies that the indigenous people practiced before the arrival of the Spanish. A particular celebrity is the Palo de Mayo (TV report and performance) that is a dance, a festival and a musical style of the population in the Atlantic region, which has emerged from an English custom and African traditions.
Probably the largest procession is the feast of Santo Domingo, the city saint of Managua. The Gritería and the festival of “Purísima”, celebrated on December 8th in León, is an ecstatic form of the cult of Mary with many traditional, local elements. A really popular fiesta with a bombastic atmosphere is the procession of San Jerónimo on September 30th. It’s not as solemn as the processions in Antigua / Guatemala; Here the little figure of a saint is carried through the streets of Masaya and violently waved and shaken to the cheering of the crowd. The Semana Santa, Holy Week or Easter Week is celebrated all over the country with large processions and celebrations. In addition, these are the most important holidays, because the heat becomes difficult to bear in the cities in March / April, i.e. at the end of the long dry season. Those who can somehow afford it spend a week or two on the beach. The day of national independence is celebrated on September 15, with large parades and festivals.
Beyond tradition, today’s youth have their own culture and leisure time.
Sport plays a very important role in Nicaragua. There are extensive sports reports on television and in the newspapers. While the neighboring countries of Costa Rica and Honduras are clearly attached to football, Nicaragua’s national sport is American baseball. The most famous idol from this sport is Dennis Martínez, who was a famous star in the American League (USA) and the National League (Canada) from 1985-1998.
Football may also exist, but that’s more of a side note. The other popular sport is boxing. The most famous boxer is the multiple world champion Alexis Argüello (1952-2009). The popular Argüello (pictures) was elected mayor of Managua for the FSLN in November 2008, but died in July 2009 by suicide. Whether this was for purely private reasons or because of a political rift with the presidential couple is the subject of heated debate. In the summer of 2010, the Ortega government erected and inaugurated a monument to Arguello on Carretera Masaya, although the circumstances of his death remain unclear. The monument is now placed on the list of “ugly buildings in Managua” by the newspaper “La Prensa”.
Music and film
The traditional music of Nicaragua is popular throughout the country, although different music is of course heard in the urban youth milieus. This then goes from punk and hard rock to the well-known tropical salsa rhythms or idiosyncratic songwriters to commercial pop music from the western world. The Mexican “rancheras” can usually be heard from the numerous pubs.
A typical Nicaraguan instrument is the marimba (a type of tropical xylophone), which is at home in Monimbó (Indian quarter of Masaya). In contrast to the large instruments in Mexico and Guatemala, a form of peasant marimba (marimba de arco) that can be carried on the shoulder is used here. If a “cuatro” (simple guitar with 4 strings), drums or a couple of “maracas” are available as accompaniment, the game can begin. All songs are originally dance pieces. The accordion is very popular in almost all chapels. At festivals and demonstrations one often hears the “Chicheros”, a traditional band with brass instruments.
The Mejía Godoy brothers are among the most famous musicians in the country: Luis Enrique and his brother Carlos. Both of them by no means only cultivate the nostalgia of the revolutionary years, in which they played a really outstanding role. Many remember the famous performance of the song “Nicaragua, Nicaraguita” in 1983. They have remained innovative musicians and continue their political and social commitment even in difficult times. Carlos ran for the position of vice-president on the list of the MRS (Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista) in the presidential election in 2006, which brought him bitter hostility from the government. Since he has also clearly spoken out in favor of the protest movement since April 2018, he has since had to go into exile in Costa Rica. The well-known music venue owned by the Mejía Godoy brothers in Managua is unfortunately closed until further notice as the artists are in exile.
A popular dance band is Dimension Costeña. This popular group from Bluefields has done a lot to bring greater awareness of the Atlantic coast in central Nicaragua. The band Perro Zompopo is internationally known and has already performed in Germany. Of course, rock music is also represented. You can watch a report about the band “Malos Habitos”.
After the 1979 revolution, the National Film Institute INCINE was founded in Nicaragua, and in the following ten years there were some film productions with interesting approaches. The cultural deforestation of the 1990’s left these approaches ineffective. Today there is a small national cinematheque which, according to its own statements, is aligned with the requirements of the government and has set itself the goal of working on national identity.
In 2009, with “La Yuma-Die Rebellin” a movie was made in Nicaragua for a long time. In it, Florence Jaugey tells the story of a girl who as a boxer wants to fight her way out of the misery and gang crime of her origin. The unadorned social realism of the film, which completely dispenses with heroic exaggeration of its figure, has received much recognition in international criticism. The leading actress Alma Blanco is considered a discovery.
The film “La Sirena y el Buzo” (Mexico / Spain / Nicaragua 2009) also deserves a mention. The film by the director Mercedes Moncada Rodríguez was shot on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua and tells the rebirth of the drowned diver Sindbad among the people and his return to the mermaid. In the trailer it can be seen that the world and mythology of the Miskito Indians is documented.