There is something about Christmas that brings the best out of people. During this time of the year is all about family and giving and quite honestly is the best time to celebrate and create family traditions.
Growing up in Puerto Rico I have memories of fun traditions we did as kids, and I wanted to share these traditions with you all in the hope that you will do them with your family as well.
The truth is that you can create your own Christmas traditions in your own home and I wanted to share some Puerto Rican Christmas tradition to teach my children about their heritage and to create some traditions of our own.
For starter, I was born in Puerto Rico and lived in the small town of Yabucoa located in the south-east of the island.
At the age of 10, we moved to Pennsylvania where we currently reside and even as an adult I enjoyed these fun family traditions with my own children.
This year Puerto Rico has been on my mind lately and no matter how much care packages I send to my family this holiday is going to be completely different for many US citizens thanks to hurricane Maria.
So what type of Puerto Rican Christmas tradition can you do this holiday season?
Let me be clear you don’t have to be Puerto Rican to do these traditions. ANYONE can do them! That’s the point of me sharing them because if you are looking for something different to do with your family and friends, then these traditions will do.
You will be creating fun traditions and learning about other cultures as well so why not?
Of course, there are traditionsc that you can’t possibly do here in the state. Things like Parrandas or Puerto Rican Christmas caroling because well, you have to follow the law! LOL
So, what are Parrandas?
Parrandas are musical events where friends and family gathered at night, generally after 10 pm to visits houses around the barrio or community and wake them or surprised them by playing and singing Christmas music.
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Of course, now a day, people are aware that people are coming because the point of a parranda is for the person who they awaken to join them in the parranda. By doing this from house to house, it grows the parranda.
How long does this last?
A parranda lasts until dawn!
As you can see though Parrandas bring back great memories I’m not entirely sure if I would be doing them with my family now. Maybe when we visit Puerto Rico during the holiday season, we might join in a parranda.
6 Puerto Rican Christmas Traditions Any Anyone Can Do This Year
So, what are the 6 Puerto Rican Christmas traditions you should do this holiday season?
Eat grapes for each chime at midnight
This is such a fun Puerto Rican Christmas tradition for the New Years is one that is fun and when the clock strikes midnight eat a grape on each chime for good luck and good health.
Each grape represents the 12 months of the year, so each grape is good luck and good health for each month.
Gather your friends and family
During Christmas Eve known as Nochebuena, is when friends and families gather around and enjoy traditional food and celebrate with parties until the early morning.
If you want to try out this Christmas Puerto Rican tradition, this one is an easy and fun one to do if you enjoy having guest and family over on Christmas eve.
What type of traditional food? More about this later.
If partying late is not your thing, many Puerto Ricans attend mass called Misa de Gallo, which is held at midnight on Christmas eve.
What makes this mass different is that it is so festive with hundreds of candles, angels, and carolers. You can visit a Catholic church and experience this mass during the Christmas Eve. Check your local Catholic church for timing.
December 28th is known as Dia de los Inocentes was celebrated like a carnival back in the days. Men dressed up as “evil soldiers of Herod, ” and they went to people’s house to “kidnap” the first-born son from every family. To recover their children families gave out candies and gifts to the soldiers.
According to sources, this tradition continues in the town called Hatillo where they have parades and a big festival at the center of town.
Now a day, Dia de los Inocentes is more like April Fool’s Day where people trick each other. To try this Puerto Rican Christmas tradition, play tricks on each other during this day or give out Christmas candy.
El Día de Reyes
Even though in the USA we are back to school and regular life, in Puerto Rico and other Latin America countries El Día de Reyes eve is happening.
This is a Catholic origin holiday and one of my favorites holiday, and you will get to know why in a few but I want to explain more about this day.
January 5th Traditional Catholics get together to pray in honor of the Wise Men, and what comes next is what I loved about it.
Children get their shoeboxes ready and start gathering fresh cut grass, water, or grain for the Wise Men’s camel to eat.
When the children wake up January 6th El Día de Reyes, Baltazar, Melchor, and Gaspar leave kids a gift.
El Día de Reyes is as big as Christmas Day is to the US. Many countries in the world celebrate it and is full of gifts and parties.
The Three Wise Men play an important role in Puerto Rican Christmas tradition and this day is pretty big. Again, one of my favorites growing up.
And a tradition that we still do in our home because I don’t know, I love it, and I want my children to enjoy it too.
What you can do is January 5th, have your children put food and leave water before they go to bed and surprise them with a little gift from the Wise Men.
Remember when I mentioned above about traditional Puerto Rican food?
During the holiday season, you can create your own traditions with these Puerto Rican foods:
- Coquito – find the recipe here.
- Arroz con Dulce – this is a type of rice pudding
- Arroz con Gandules – Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas
- Lechon Asado – Roast pork cooked on a spit
- Tembleque – a custard made with coconut milk
As you can see these 6 Puerto Rican Christmas tradition, any family can do this holiday season. It is a great way to learn about other cultures while creating new traditions based on this one.