Puerto Rico, officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
San Juan is the Capital and the largest city of Puerto Rico.
Christmas Celebrations in Puerto Rico :
The Roman Catholic Church is the dominant religion in Puerto Rico which is followed by over 56 percent of total population.
Christmas is celebrated in a grand manner in Puerto Rico with celebrations starting early in December and going on till January 6.
In Puerto Rico, Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena, Christmas is known as Navidad, New Year’s Eve is known as Despedida de Año and the Epiphany or Three Kings Day is known as el Día de Reyes.
Puerto Rico has its own Christmas traditions and style of celebrating Christmas.
From December 15 to 24, churches conduct misas de aguinaldo – special masses held at dawn singing of aguinaldos, which are Puerto Rican versions of Christmas Carols.
During Christmas there is a brilliant display of Christmas lights seen at various places including Plaza de Armas, the main square in Old San Juan.
On Christmas Eve, a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas dinner is served which consits of lechón (roast pork), pasteles (patties), and arroz con gandules (rice ‘n beans).
The traditional Christmas dessert is tembleque, which is a kind of custard with coconut, cornstarch, vanilla, and cinnamon. Instead of eggnog, you’ll have coquito, or coconut nog.
After Christmas dinner, people generally attend a midnight mass known as the Misa de Gallo or “Rooster’s Mass.”
On Christmas Day, children’s gather late in the evening to go from one house to the next singing traditional songs. Parrandas is Christmas caroling Puerto Rican style.
Christmas celebrations are extented to New Year’s Eve called Año Viejo in Puerto Rico. Its a fun time to be outside; fireworks, honking cars, and the cacophony of celebration can be heard everywhere.
The Christmas celebrations come to an end on El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos, or “Three Kings Day.” but on the night before January 6, Puerto Rican children collect grass and place it in their shoebox under their beds for the Three Kings’ Camels and expect gifts in return.
On January 6, i.e., El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos a large celebration takes place in San Juan, and children can go to La Fortaleza, the governor’s mansion, to receive free gifts.
Puerto Ricans are normally shopaholics and Christmas Holiday season is the best shopping time for them. Streets of big cities like San Juan, Bayamón, Carolina, Ponce, Caguas, etc are filled with Christmas shops and there is Christmas decoration seen every where.
Some Puerto Ricans celebrate Christmas for more days i.e, till Octavas and Octavitas which is celebrated eight days after January 6 and according to the current Puerto Rican tradition, if you received a visit from a friend or relative on Three Kings’ day, you are supposed to return the visit eight days later, playing live music and singing songs. Many families choose this day to take off the Christmas decorations and “officially” end Christmas.
We wish all readers Merry Christmas 2016 and Happy New Year 2017 !!!