Puerto Rico's dominant language is Spanish,
and the typical greeting during the holiday is Feliz Navidad
The Christmas season starts on Thanksgiving Day, and stretches to the end of January.For the children in Puerto Rico, the Epiphany is met with the same expectation that Christmas is celebrated by children in the States.
Leading nine days up to Christmas, Catholic churches throughout the island celebrate a special Mass before sunrise known as Misa de Aguinaldo which is a song service accompanied by the traditional cuatro (Puerto Rican guitar).
This ritual ends on Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) with the Midnight Mass, known as Misa de Gallo (Rooster Mass) after the ancient tradition of celebrating the Mass of the Nativity at the time the rooster crows. This is the time when family and friends get together for a traditional dinner, and the celebrations last til Christmas morning.
Navidad is Christmas Day, and Santa is celebrated with gifts, and the prominent decorations are the Three Wise Men or Los Reyes.
The Feast of the Holy Innocents
December 28th commemorates the mass slaying of male children in Bethlehem following the birth of Jesus Christ. The day is observed by playing practical jokes on the "innocent or naive", and is somewhat like April Fool's Day in the States.
January 5th, the eve of the Epiphany
Children collect grass and place it in a shoe box under their beds for the Three Kings Camels. The children of Puerto Rico receive gifts from both Santa Claus, along with the Three Kings (Three Wise Men) which is a Spanish heritage tradition.
January 6th - The Feast of the Epiphany
(Día de Reyes or “Kings’ Day”)
Marks the end of the Christmas season in Puerto Rico. The island's Governor hosts a large celebration in the capital San Juan where thousands of children are treated to presents, food, and musical entertainment.
The arrival of the Three Kings with gifts for the children is a tradition more in line with the island's Catholic roots than the Santa Claus tradition in North America.Other towns throughout Puerto Rico host smaller Día de Reyes celebrations, and some Puerto Ricans still observe the traditional Octavitas (“Little Octaves”), which is an additional eight-day period of Christmas celebrations after the Epiphany.
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There are two types of traditional Christmas music - Villancico and the Aguinaldo.
The origins of villancico are from Spain, and is a religious ballad related to the Nativity story. The aguinaldo is usually not religious in nature, and has its origins in island folklore, Christmas traditions, and can often be humorous.
Small bands of carolers called Parranderos arrive unannounced to friends homes, and sing Christmas songs at the doorstep until the homeowner lets them in for drinks and food.
The band plays a variety of string and percussion instruments such as guitars, small drums, wooden sticks - and band members wear the traditional Puerto Rican staw hat.
Popular Christmas songs in North America have been translated into Spanish, such as Noche de Paz (“Silent Night”), Blanca Navidad (“White Christmas”), Cascabel (“Jingle Bells”), and El Tamborilero (“The Little Drummer Boy”).
Traditional FoodThe main dishes served in Puerto Rico during the Christmas season include the infamous (lechon) slow roasted pig cooked by the men over hardwood fires.
The women make Pasteles assembly type divided into group with one laying out the banana leaves, other doing the filling and wrapping, and then it's time to cook. Pasteles are filled with meat, peppers, olives, raisins. hard-boiled eggs, and wrapped in banana leafs.
Other pork dishes, like Pernil (Puerto Rican pork shoulder) and Morcillas (blood sausages) are also a holiday favorite.
Coquito is the popular drink during the Christmas season, and is made with egg yolks, coconut milk, coconut cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg cloves and white rum.
Typical Christmas desserts include coconut pudding, white rice cooked with coconut milk and raisins, flan (caramel custard), candied ripe plantains, and turrones (Spanish-style almond nougat).
Happy Holidays & Safe Travels
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