Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas in Puerto Rico

Good morning everyone! I hope you are all having a great weekend.  Have you ever wonder how is Christmas celebrated in other countries?  If you have, you have to visit the bastel-traum blog because they are having a X-mas Special project, where each day, from December 1 thru December 24, people from different countries will share with us their Christmas traditions. And guess what? Today is my turn. Yay!! I am sharing with you how Christmas is celebrated in Puerto Rico.  So what are you waiting for? Click here and enjoy Christmas around the world!

 Here is my project:
Christmas in Puerto Rico               
Some people say we have the longest Christmas in the world and I really believe it is true. As Christians, we observe the advent calendar, preparing ourselves to celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus. But the popular celebration begins right after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday of November, and it ends up around the third week of January. 

For us Puerto Ricans, Christmas is all about sharing with family and friends. We decorate our houses with a Christmas tree and a lot of lights and I mean a LOT. We decorate everything and you can hear music everywhere. The Puerto Rican culture has influence from Spain, Africa and USA, so our celebration is a very peculiar one. On December 24th, we celebrate Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), families gather together to have dinner, dance and sing. The children go to sleep early that night, because if they are not asleep Santa Clause will not leave their gifts under the tree. December 25th is Navidad (Christmas), family and friends gather together again and keep celebrating, eating and drinking. On New Year’s Eve, December 31st, family and friends meet again to welcome the New Year and the party goes on sometimes until dawn. The celebration does not end on New Year, January 1st, because on January 6th, we celebrate the Tres Reyes Magos (Three Wise men) Holiday and as the Three Wise Men, Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar, brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus, they bring gifts for the children and adults. After that, we celebrate the Octavitas and the Octavones, which are sixteen more days of celebration. For most Puerto Ricans, Christmas ends up with Las Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian, which is a carnival celebrated in the streets of Old San Juan.

Our typical Christmas food is arroz con gandures, pasteles y lechon, simply delicious. And for dessert, arroz con dulce. The favorite drink is Coquito, prepared with coconut milk. I am including pictures and the recipes below.

Arroz con gandures recipe (Rice with pigeon peas)
Pasteles recipe

Arroz con dulce recipe (Candied coconut rice)

Coquito drink recipe (Puerto Rican rum eggnog)

One of my favorites Christmas traditions is the parranda. It is when a group of friends surprises another friend in the middle of the night with music. It is like the Puerto Rican version of Christmas caroling. Sometimes you let your friend know you are bringing them a parranda, sometimes you don’t. During the parranda people play the guitar, cuatro, marracas, güiros and other instruments, and everyone sings. The home owner invites them inside for refreshments and finger food, and they stay in the house about 30 minutes. The group of people goes from one house to another, usually the house owner joins the parranda and the group keeps getting bigger and bigger. The parranda can keep going until dawn, when it usually ends with an asopao de pollo, something similar to chicken soup.

Take a look at this YouTube video, to get a taste of the music played at the parrandas and listen to the exquisite sound of the cuatro, an instrument similar to the guitar, but smaller.

Feliz Navidad!
Big hug and Happy Holidays!!


  1. HI Ivonne... THANKS a lot for your LOVELY information about the christmas at your country... You say it, it is really the longest christmas at the world... It is like a journey to hear from all the traditions... THANKS again... Parranda sounds very interessting. I hope I see you again by Happy holidays, too! Hugs and blessings from Ute

  2. Thanks for sharing of such wonderful information and that really is one long celebration! Lovin the food as well:)