Taking a look at a Puerto Rican Christmas

Christmas holidays are near and people in different parts of the world will have their own way of celebrating. The Puerto Rican version of Christmas is known as Navidad. This is Christmas Day-December 25 where Christians celebrate the birthday of Jesus. It is believed that Santa Claus will bring gifts to children, a custom that originated in the US back in the 1940s and has now become a Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico. Christmas is the time of tradition, bonuses, tenths, and being a Puerto Rican jíbaro, which is the best of Puerto Rican culture.

Puerto Rican food

Puerto Ricans begin their Christmas celebrations at the beginning of December and would perhaps end the first week of January. Of course, this is the best time to talk about Puerto Rican food. Puerto Rican cuisine is similar to Spanish, Mexican and Cuban with a delicious mix of African, Taino and American influences.

Christmas Eve is a special dinner that takes place on Christmas Eve. Puerto Ricans like chicken so you would always see it as part of the main dish, like baked chicken or turkey, and roast pork or ham served with Spanish rice with pigeon peas, local vegetables like cooked green plantains, fried plantains or cooked yam.

Some of the lunch appetizers and dinner meals generally include very hot appetizers such as bacalaitos, crispy cod fritters; surullitos, sweet and plump fingers of cornmeal; and empanadillas, crescent-shaped dumplings stuffed with lobster, crab, conch, or beef. Soups are also thought to be a popular start to meals in Puerto Rico as well as in other countries. There is debate as to whether one of the best-known soups, frijoles negros (black bean soup), is of Cuban or Puerto Rican origin. However, it’s still a tasty, if hearty, opening to a meal. For their Christmas desserts they have “arroz con dulce” (rice cooked with spices, sugar, milk, and coconut milk) and “tembleque” (a flan made with cornstarch, sugar, and coconut milk). They taste better warm or cold, when their consistency becomes more solid. One of the festive Puerto Rican foods is roast suckling pig, which is usually cooked for a party of 12 or 15. It is traditional for picnics and outdoor parties. These are just one of the Puerto Rican meals served during the holidays.

Farewell to the Year is celebrated on December 31 in time to end the year and face and new. The biggest and most important for all children is what they call, Three Kings Day on January 6. This is the day that the children open their gifts the night before the departure of the Three Wise Men.

Their Christmas is different as they have a special “kettle” (traditional straw hat) that is worn only for Christmas. They have their own version of Christmas carols which they call Parranda. It is when a small group of people gather to surprise other people and they will bring their musical instruments such as guitars, drums, güiro maracas or sticks on which they will play the traditional Aguinaldos.

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