Nicaragua’s patron saints festivities are full of religious fervor, a mix of undying pre-Columbian traditions and Spanish cultural customs. In contrast to other Roman Catholic countries where Catholicism is not lived strongly, Nicaraguans are profoundly devoted to their religious beliefs. Most likely when fireworks are rocketing through the sky or loud drums and trumpets are heard, it is because one of the worshiped Saints or Virgins is carried in bustling processions through town.
No doubt the most important religious celebration is “Easter” when thousands of Nicaraguans demonstrate their faith. Each catholic town, either big or small, will render and reenact the Passion of Christ in fervent ways. Churchgoers will overflow daily masses praying for their beloved ones. Cheerless streets will become happily decorated with colorful flowers and religious motifs.
By tradition some streets in Leon are joyfully ornamented with “sawdust carpets”, a work made by locals using colorful sawdust. People, using their creative imagination, craft beautiful and colorful religious images on the "sawdust carpets". Another unique way of faith demonstration during “Easter” is naturally performed on “Las Isletas”, just offshore Granada, where the “Passover” is recreated by many colorful boats on the waters of the great Lake. All this excitement of Easter celebration matches perfectly well with the official holiday and the enthusiasm of thousands of Nicaraguan families who organize beach trips during this time.
Besides Easter festivities, August is one of the main months to celebrate some important Catholic events. For example, residents of Granada overwhelm the colonial streets to honor “La Virgen de la Asuncion” on the 15th. In Managua, the celebration is carried in honor of “Santo Domingo” from the 1st to the 10th; thousands of people accompany the Saint in a feverish procession at the rhythm of marimba music. Other important celebrations around Nicaragua happen in Masaya for “San Jeronimo”; in Diriamba, Carazo for “San Sebastian”; “La Virgen de la Merced” in Leon and Chinandega.
An authentic part of these celebrations are the “Hipicas” or horse parades where hundreds of elegant horses take over the streets and display skillful steps through their masters or “Montados” who wear jeans, cowboy boots, long-sleeved shirts and hats. Another important ingredient of this festival is “bull riding”. Small wooden arenas are constructed overnight and fearless bull riders will try to stay on top of the jumping bull, at the rhythm of music played by “Chicheros”, a local musical band, as well as the frenetic shouting of the intense audience.