If you’ve been thinking of a Puerto Rican getaway this Christmas, you’ll be interested in the myriad holiday traditions on the island. Visiting Puerto Rico during the holiday season can be an exciting adventure, especially when you know what the archipelago has to offer. We’re sharing some of Puerto Rico’s long-standing traditions and events as discussed on the El Boricua website, so when you and your family visit us during the Yuletide season you’ll be able to participate to the fullest.
Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena, is actually when Puerto Rico has the largest celebration. There is much feasting on foods such as lechón asado (grilled pork) and pasteles (similar to tamales). Families and friends gather for the festivities, which often last throughout the night. Another facet to Nochebuena includes Misa de Gallo, a Catholic mass that is held at midnight. The candlelight mass includes caroling and children dressed as Nativity figures and angels. Families generally attend this mass together, as it often considered the most beautiful of the year.
Navidad is Christmas Day, and most families in modern-day Puerto Rico celebrate much the same as the mainland, with gift exchanges and Santa. You will find, though, that much of the decoration on this day includes palm fronds – not much different than the pine boughs that decorate North American homes during the holiday season. Generally, Navidad is a day of rest from the Nochebuena events of the prior evening.
If you visit in the New Year, you’ll want to consider planning your stay for Víspera de Reyes, on January 5, and then Día de Reyes on January 6. These are the days of the kings, the Three Wise Men Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Víspera de Reyes takes place on the eve of Día de Reyes and is celebrated with a mass to honor the Three Wise Men, who are considered saints in the Catholic religion. After mass, children prepare to receive gifts from Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. They leave cut grass for the Wise Men’s camels to eat, like North American children leave carrots for Santa’s reindeer.
On the Día de Reyes, a holiday akin to the mainland’s Christmas Day is celebrated. Children excitedly seek the gifts left for them the night before by Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Families enjoy a day of feasting and togetherness. And, the feasting lasts for the next two days – Gaspar’s feast day is on the Día de Reyes, with Melchior’s following on the 7th and Balthazar’s on the 8th.
Throughout the holiday season in Puerto Rico, visitors can expect to enjoy music from parranderos, or carolers. Usually, bands of friends and family gather in the late evening and go house-to-house, singing and playing various traditional songs. Most often, they are invited in to partake in festivities, and then often, occupants of the house that was visited join the parranda, so the group grows in numbers as the evening progresses.
As you can see, Puerto Rico is rich in tradition and celebration when it comes to the holiday season. Visitors interested in coming to the island to soak in Puerto Rico’s culture should consider visiting during this time of the year. If you plan to stay with us at Maria’s during the holiday season, make sure you book early – we usually book quickly during this time of year! You can find out more about availability by visiting our booking page or by calling Island West Properties at 787-823-2323. Thank you for visiting!