Christmas Traditions in the Dominican Republic
How do people in a tropical country celebrate Christmas? There’s no snow, no cold – just swaying palms and sunshine!
Christmas is a continuous celebration of life and family. Family members living abroad venture home to the DR loaded with gifts. Celebrating begins in October and one party follows another. Read to discover what makes a traditional Dominican Christmas.
Dominicans Love Christmas!
La Noche Buena (Christmas Eve)
The Good Night” is the largest family event of the season with a feast of food and extensive family gatherings. A very Catholic country, many Dominicans attend Christmas Eve Mass at midnight called La Misa del Gallo or “Roosters Mass”. This is part of the belief that a rooster crowed at midnight when Jesus was born.
Christmas Eve dinner is called “La Cena del 24” or “La Cena Navideña”. It consists of a traditional meal of roast pork “puerco asado”, rice with pigeon peas, pasteles en hojas (wrap of banana leaves filled with pork and “Russian” potato salad made with beetroot. Telera is the name for a baguette-shaped soft bread that is only eaten at Christmas time.
Check out the recipe for
Moro de Guandules con Coco (Rice, Pigeon Peas and Coconut)
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without these hand-craften wooden stars, trees, balls and animals. You can find these beautiful creations for sale on almost every street corner. Usually a set of white lights are strung through to provide night time sparkle. As you travel through the country you’ll see them on front porches, city streets and town squares.
El Angelito (“The Little Angel”)
The Christmas gift exchange is called Un Angelito and is a little like a Secret Santa exchange. Everyone writes their name on a small piece of paper and then names are drawn . Whomever you choose is your Angelito and you give them a little gift. You are their personal angel.
Music is always a backdrop to Dominican life, but at Christmas Dominicans take it to an extra fun level. An “Aguinaldo” is a group of family or friends who go from house to house singing with infectious, joyful happiness. More and more people join in – creating a street festival with dancing and hot drinks. Informal, community parties are a staple of island life. Dominicans are very warm, social and inviting.
Flores de Pascua (Christmas Flowers)
You may recognize these red flowers as poinsettias. They are grown locally here and become large trees! Sold in pots along the sides of the road, these traditional Christmas plants are given to friends and family as a long tradition.
Fuegos Artificiales (Fireworks)
Christmas is celebrated with a bang and atmospheric displays of color. Fireworks are a big part of Christmas and New Year’s. Larger cities will do professional shows, but it’s common for individual families or groups to create their own beautiful lightshow.