Taking a Peek Into a Puerto Rican Christmas

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The Christmas holiday is near and people in different parts of the world will have its own way of celebrating. The Puerto Rican Christmas version is known as Navidad. This is the day of Christmas-December 25 where Christians celebrate the birthday of Jesus. It is thought that Santa Claus will be bringing gifts to kids in which the custom originated in the USA way back 1940′s and now has become Puerto Rico’s Holiday tradition. Navidad is the time of tradition, aguinaldos, décimas, y de ser jíbaro Puertorriqueño which is the best of Puerto Rican culture.

Puerto Rican Food

Puerto Ricans begin their Christmas celebrations early in December and perhaps would end on the first week of January. Of course, this is the best time to talk about Puerto Rican food. The Puerto Rican cuisine is similar to that of Spanish, Mexican, and Cuban with a delightful blend of African, Taíno, and American influences.

Nochebuena is a special dinner party done on Christmas Eve. Puerto Ricans like chicken so you would always see as part of the main dish, like baked chicken or turkey, and roasted pork or ham which is accompanied by Spanish rice with pigeon peas, local vegetables like cooked green bananas, fried plantains or cooked yam.

Some of the food appetizers and food during dinner generally includes with sizzling-hot appetizers such as bacalaitos, crunchy cod fritters; surullitos, sweet plump cornmeal fingers; and empanadillas, crescent-shaped turnovers filled with lobster, crab, conch, or beef. It is also thought that soups are a popular beginning for meals on Puerto Rico just like in other countries. There is a debate about whether one of the best-known soups, frijoles negros (black-bean soup), is Cuban or Puerto Rican in origin. Nevertheless, it is still a savory, if filling, opening to a meal. For their Holiday desserts, they have “arroz con dulce” (rice cooked with spices, sugar, milk, and coconut milk) and “tembleque” (a custard made with cornstarch, sugar, and coconut milk). They taste better cool down or cold, when its consistency becomes more solid. One for the festive Puerto Rican food is the lechón asado, or barbecued pig, which is usually cooked for a party of 12 or 15. It is traditional for picnics and al fresco parties. These are just one of the Puerto Rican food serve during holidays.

Despedida de Año is celebrated on December 31 in time to end the year and face and new one. The biggest and most important for all children is what they call, el Día de Reyes on January 6th. This is the day when children open their gifts the night before the Three Wise Men (Kings) left.

Their Christmas is different as they have a special “pava” (traditional straw-hat) to be worn just for Christmas. They have their own version of Christmas caroling which they call Parranda. It is when a small group of folks gathers to surprise another folk and they will be bringing their musical instruments like either guitarras, tamboriles, güiro maracas, or palitos in which they will play the traditional Aguinaldos.

By Xerxes Bernadez

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