Christmas is absolutely awesome! For most people, the season is full of sharing, gifts, family, and friends. Now that Christmas Day has passed (crowd sighs), I'd like to share a little bit about what Christmas is like in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico!
1. It basically starts on Thanksgiving and ends about mid-January
The Christmas season is one of the best times of the year. So why not make the most out of it? Thanksgiving is basically the acceptable day to start with Christmas music and stuff in Puerto Rico. While many put up the tree earlier, the majority start setting up for Christmas that week.
The Christmas season in Puerto Rico is characterized by the music and the festive spirit of the people. It is a time to spend with loved ones; your close family, your extended family, and your friends.
2. We go on Parrandas
Think of these as Puerto Rican caroling. During a parranda a group of people comes together, everyone grabs an instrument and they head on over to someone's house and play Puerto Rican Christmas songs. The family comes out and joins in the song and many times the whole group is invited into the house, people bring food and drinks, they'll whip up something in the kitchen, and it's a great time of just being with family and friends. In other cases, the group then goes on to someone else's house and continue the parranda.
This can occur anytime and anywhere as you can see in the videos below, but normally it occurs around evening or night-time.
3. Three words: Three Kings' Day
Before Puerto Rico became part of the US and adopted Christmas, Puerto Rico belonged to Spain from which we adopted Three Kings' Day. Three Kings' Day celebrates the three wise men (kings) who brought gifts to Jesus at the nativity. Only a few countries other than Spain celebrate this holiday: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, and Argentina.
In a way, it is basically a second Christmas Day; there are gifts, a tree, Christmas food, and family, the whole deal. Every year, Three Kings' Day is celebrated on January 6. However, the night before, kids have to go out and fill a shoe box with grass to feed the kings' camels. Sort of like leaving cookies and milk for Santa.
Many cities in Puerto Rico host festivals and parades on Three Kings' Day to celebrate the event. The most famous of these is held in Juana Diaz (video below). Normally people from around the island gather, three men will dress as the three kings and give out gifts to children. There's music, food, and it is a lot of fun!
4. Christmas is about spending time with your family, all of it!
In Puerto Rico the majority of people wake up and open gifts around the tree and such with their family (mom, dad, and siblings, in some cases). Later in the day, most people get in the car and meet up with the rest of the family with mom and dad's side of the family. The point is to spend such a festive day with those you love most and who love you most; your family.
Many times this varies from family to family. However, the majority of Puerto Rican families opt to spend Christmas Day and Three Kings' Day with both direct and extended family.
5. Christmas food goes all in!
Food plays a big role in the season. Once you start smelling the pernil you know it's Christmas. Pork and plantain-based foods play a big part of the menu, coquito would be analogous to eggnog in the mainland US, and arroz con dulce is God's gift to mankind.
Below are pictures of just a few of the dishes seen during the Christmas season in Puerto Rico. Trust me when I say that they all taste amazing and they are part of what makes the season unique.
So that's a short summary of Christmas in Puerto Rico. If there is a Puerto Rican in your life celebrate this season with them, you might learn a thing or two and you will definitely have fun!
For more on how Christmas in Puerto Rico check out this article and click translate on your browser.