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Nicaragua is a country in Central America, bordering both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and is also located between Costa Rica and Honduras. Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. It gained independence from Spain in 1821. Throughout its years, Nicaragua has developed a mighty culture that has shown the world what a Hispanic American country is capable of. Nicaragua’s music, dance, and food define what the country is about. Nicaragua is ones of the most culturally diverse countries in the Hispanic world.
In Nicaragua religion plays a huge part in their culture. In countries such as the United States there are movements in order to separate church and state. Nicaragua has no such rules, and there is no separation whatsoever. They integrate religion into everything they do, and they have special entities that mediate between political parties that see different religious views. They have many religious celebrations inside of the country that are filled with song and dance. Each city also has their own Patron Saint in which the citizens honor and celebrate around in festivals called “Fiestas Patrinales” which is a folkloric event.
Nicaragua has a deep history that has formed since its creation. The most important city in Nicaragua is Managua, its capital. The city is its largest by far, with approximately 5x the population of the next city. One of the most famous person in Nicaragua is Ruben Dario, a poet who led the Spanish-American literary movement called modernismo. He had a great influence in Spanish literature from his time, all the way through the 20th century.
Many delicacies are served to the people of Nicaragua. Most of the dishes in Nicaragua are made from maize. Maize is simply another name for a crop everyone knows well – Corn. Many towns cater to pilgrims as well that travel to visit their patron saints so cities like Jinotepe, Diriamba, and San Marcos are famous for their festive dishes called “picadillo, ajiaco, and masa de cazuela or indio viejo”. Since maize was such a big influence on their culture, they attributed the discovery of maize to Quetzalcoatl, a legendary hero in mesoamerica. Corn is put inside their signature tamales, and can be mixed with cheese for heavenly goodness. The classic albondigas (dumplings) eaten especially during lent, the delicious buñuelos with honey, perrerreque, rosquillas, hojaldras, viejitas, and the rellenas, everything that is known as “Cosa de Horno” (Baked Stuff); and, last but not least of the baked corn goods: the Jinotegan pupusas are all marvelous foods that are made from corn. It is simply amazing how so many dishes can be made from one thing.
Nicaragua’s music and dancing skills are top notch. Their cultural dances and music are inspired by the many cultures that mix inside the country. Here are the cultures:
Pacific – A mixture of the indigenous and Spanish culture resulting in a wide range of diverse music and dance with flutes and drums accompanied by dancers in Spanish garb demonstrating the duality of cultures.
Masaya – Here the cultural feature is referred to in the Latin American term ‘mestizaje’, a mixture of culture. Dances are expressed with soft movements as guitars strum lightly in the background with the national folklore instrument, the wooden marimaba, painting the picture of a dance between man and woman.
North/Central – The European heritage brought by the Spanish and German descendants is prominently displayed in this region. Dances known as the ‘polcas’ and ‘mazurcas’
Caribbean – Though the African culture plays an integral role in this region, influencing both the music and dance, the contribution of the native indigenous tribes can not be forgotten. The dance of choice is the ‘palo de mayo’, crafted in Bluefields, an energetic dance which highlights the role of the body with sensual movements.
This dance and musical culture is epitomized in a play called “El Gueguense”, which is a satirical play about a governor who orders the Sheriff to forbid singing, dancing, and entertainment inside of a municipality, and a wise man who dares to go against it. The play makes fun of cultural greetings with the wise man acting oblivious to customs. The play was so significant, that UNESCO declared this play an important representation of Nicaraguan folklore, calling it a “masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” During the Patron day festivities there are also other notable dances such as:
Nicaragua is a wonderful country that is highly culturally diverse. It has a lot of traditional food, music, and other things that makes it really special. Even though I don’t have any experience with Nicaragua, it seems like a fun country to go to.
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