How Dominicans Celebrate Christmas? 🎄
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
The holiday season in the Dominican Republic might be the longest celebration in the world. It’s pretty much three months of festivities, beginning in October and finally wrapping up in January. In other words, Dominicans LOVE Christmas and they love to share it with visitors. It’s a time for family, food and giving thanks. When you come to the Dominican Republic during the holidays, you’re guaranteed to be treated like family. Here’s what you need to know about how the Dominican Republic celebrates Christmas.
A sign of Christmas in the Dominican Republic is the appearance of hundreds of wooden hand-crafted Christmas trees, stars, reindeers and other animals displayed in the streets. According to their history, artisans started making these white “charamico” trees, as a way of having our own trees covered in “snow”. As you travel through the country in the winter, you’ll see them everywhere you go, from front porches to city streets to town squares.
Poinsettias “Flores de Pascua”
Christmas Flowers or as we know them: poinsettias, are given away to friends and members of the family as a special gift during the Christmas Holidays. What many people don’t realize is that these plants become large trees! We had one outside that was taller than our house!
El Perico Ripiao
This is one of the typical music in Dominican Republic, which is usually heard throughout the year and has a leading role at Christmas, having a particular roots especially in mountainous areas or the Cibao area.
During the performance of this music, the singer maintains a powerful tone of voice, which stands out above the music with an accelerated rhythm.
“Angelitos” is the term used for the Dominican Republic Christmas tradition of exchanging small presents between friends or work colleagues. The names of all people involved are written on small papers which are then put in a basket. Everyone will pick up one name and consequently become their ‘little angel’ responsible for ‘secretly’ buying them a present! People are not allowed to know who their angels are. All the fun is, precisely, to try to ‘discover’ who is your ‘angel’, without giving yourself away. People will try to give false clues about who’s ‘angel’ they really are. On the final day for giving presents, people will give a nice present to their angels as well as revealing their ‘real’ identities and, of course, everyone has a nice party to celebrate it!
La Noche Buena (Christmas Eve)
Christmas Eve in the Dominican Republic is known as La Noche Buena. On La Noche Buena, Dominicans often gather for a big family feast, with traditional food and drink served and beloved Christmas songs sung. Many Dominicans go to church on Christmas Eve as well, for a midnight Catholic mass service known as La Misa del Gallo (“Rooster’s Mass”). This name of this ceremony comes from the belief that a rooster crowed on the night when Jesus was born. In the Dominican Republic, one of the most popular La Misa del Gallo celebrations takes place at Cathedral de Santa Maria in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone.
For this celebration Dominicans usually eat some dishes such as Telera, which is a large bread; the roast pork in puya, which is very typical of Cibao, in the north of the country; the stuffed turkey, which comes from San Juan de la Maguana and San José de Ocoa.
Other dishes that are not lacking in these Christmas celebrations in the Dominican Republic are sheet cakes, which are typical of the East of the country. Its preparation consists of a kind of dough with bananas, green bananas or vautías stuffed with meats that are wrapped in banana leaves and tied with a thread.
Also, you can eat Russian salad, a dish that includes boiled vegetables, eggs, mayonnaise and fruits, as well as the moro de Guandule (based on moro rice and a type of pea called pigeon pea), the baked pork leg and chicken. Meanwhile, lovers of sweets can taste some sweets and coquitos (coconut-based) or eat fruits such as pears, apples and grapes.
At Christmas in the Dominican Republic you should also take away all your old things, especially old brooms! If you do not put them away, you should put them at a corner of your house. Dominicans also like to give their houses a fresh coat of paint at the end of the year. This means that if you visit the Dominican Republic just after Christmas many homes will be looking very fresh and brightly painted!
Another Dominican Republic Christmas Traditions is to burn some incense for purifying homes, and some people might also throw ‘holy water’ around their homes that has been previously blessed by the local priest.
The idea behind all these little rituals and Christmas traditions in the Dominican Republic is to bring good luck and good fortune to the household in the year ahead.
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By Veronica Rodriguez