What are the Christmas traditions in the Dominican Republic?

03 Dec 2023 - Category: Blog /
dominican christmas

Christmas is a great time for celebration, eating, and partying with family, friends, and neighbors. In the Dominican Republic, Christmas is particularly special, exciting, and unique. There are a variety of fascinating traditions observed every time Christmas comes around that are tied to the history and culture of the Dominican Republic.

What do Dominicans do in the lead-up to Christmas? What are some of the most popular Christmas culinary traditions in the Dominican Republic? What kinds of songs do Dominicans listen to during Christmas time? These are the kinds of questions that you might have if you are interested in the Christmas traditions of the Dominican Republic.

In this blog, we’ll explore everything you need to know about Dominican Christmas Traditions, including:

Dominican Republic Christmas Traditions

Christmas is a time for joy and celebration for Dominicans wherever they are in the world. Throughout the Dominican Republic, many start getting in the festive spirit even before December. Then when the Christmas period begins they start visiting church, praying, and spending time with family.

Learn more: Spanish vs. Hispanic Christmas Traditions

There are a variety of Christmas traditions to do with the church, decorations, music, and food that are worth highlighting.

  • La Noche Buena (Christmas Eve)

In the Dominican Republic, Christmas Eve is the most special day of the festive period. On La Noche Buena, Dominicans will gather in the evening for a major family feast. Traditional food and drink will be served and many Christmas songs will be sung.

Around half of all Dominicans are Catholic. Many of these Catholics will attend a midnight Catholic mass service, La Misa del Gallo, on Christmas Eve. In the Dominican Republic, the most popular La Misa del Gallo service is held at the Cathedral de Santa Maria in Santo Domingo.

  • Charamicos

Charamicos is the Dominican version of Christmas trees. There are not many fresh-cut fir or pine trees in the Dominican Republic, so this tradition of charamicos emerged. Essentially, charamicos are handcrafted wooden ornaments that are decorated with color, lights, and trinkets. If you find yourself in the Dominican Republic during December you are likely to notice many charamicos dotted around in town squares and front porches.

  • Aguinaldos

Aguinaldos are the Dominican version of Christmas caroling. Music is deeply ingrained in the culture and people of the Dominican Republic. Aguinaldos are the opportunity for everyone in your community to gather together and sing songs.

Usually, the Aguinaldo will start with just a few people. Then as the Aguinaldo moves around the neighborhood, more and more singers will join and the songs will become increasingly loud and exciting. One of the most famous songs featured in Aguinaldos is “A Las Arandelas”

  • Un Angelito

Gifts are an important part of Christmas wherever you are in the world. In the Dominican Republic, traditional Christmas gift-giving is called “Un Angelito” (A Little Angel). It is a tradition similar to Secret Santa in which participants pick a name from a bag. The person you choose is your Angelito and you have to buy them a little gift. On the day of the gift exchange, you give your present to your Angelito and reveal your identity.

  • Fireworks

Fuegos artificiales are a significant Christmas tradition in the Dominican Republic. Throughout December, and especially on Christmas Eve, the skies above the Dominican Republic are lit up with colorful fireworks displays.

Dominican Republic Christmas Food

One of the best things about Christmas is the food. This is especially true in the Dominican Republic where food and family meals play such a vital role within the culture. Some of the traditional Christmas dishes in the Dominican Republic include:

  • Puerco asada or lechón asado

The traditional Christmas meal eaten on Christmas Eve is usually a pork roast - Puerco asada or lechón asado. It is a delicious and traditional Dominican dish that is often marinated and packed full of flavors. It is a dish that can be prepared in a variety of ways and many Dominicans will have their particular way of cooking Puerco asada to ensure that their Christmas Eve meal is great.

  • Moro de granules

Rice with pigeon peas is a favorite for Dominicans are Christmas time. It serves as a great companion to any main meat or veggie dish served on Christmas Eve. As with all food that comes from the Dominican Republic, Mor de Granules is crammed full of flavor, herbs, and a variety of spices.

  • Telera

Telera is a type of long soft bread that is usually only eaten during the Christmas holiday period. The bread is often yellowish and is traditionally served alongside the main Christmas meal.

  • Ponche

Ponche is a cream-based holiday drink that is a regular feature of Dominican meals. At Christmas time you’re likely to find plenty of Ponche - a kind of eggnog consumed throughout the Caribbean. It is the ideal relaxing Christmas cocktail to accompany all the Pastelitos, wonderful Christmas music, and dancing.

You are likely to find these foods and many more like them at any Dominican Christmas celebration. Food plays an important role throughout the Dominican Republic Christmas season and the Christmas family meal is often the most important gathering of the whole festive period.

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