Christmas is getting closer, and we thought it would be a cool idea to introduce you to Christmas, Dominican Republic style! This way you can learn a bit more about the traditions in the communities we service.
Christmas is Grand
Christmas may not be cold, but it is long as it lasts for several months in DR! Beginning with Christmas songs in the 10th of October, all the way to the day of the Three Wise Kings on the 6th of January – Christmas season is a long one in this beautiful country. During this time you’ll be able to listen to typical Christmas songs, DR style, like: “Volvió Juanita”, “Yo Voy Paya”, “Felicia me Muero”, “Alegre Vengo”, “Palo con Ella”, “De la montaña”, “La misma Pela”, “El Santo Cachón” “Oye Tavin”, Llegó tu Marido”, “Que te Pasa Viejo Año”, “El Pavo y el Burro”.
Although things begin happening since October, it is not until December that businesses and institutions begin having private or public parties. These parties are a way to thank employees for all their hard work throughout the year and usually include raffles, gifts, and a lot of great food and drink. However, these are not the only parties which will happen for the holidays, and, between friends and family, Christmas becomes a constant celebration in DR.
Church is Important
A nativity scene will be typically placed both at church and at home under the Christmas tree. Yet, it’s custom for the most important day, December 25th, to be celebrated at church with a “Misa de Gallo”. This mass begins at midnight on the 24th, welcoming the first ours of the 25th of December with a Christmas Eve service. This mass is repeated at noon on the 25th for those who couldn’t make it at midnight. Nevertheless, it’s not abnormal for people to go to both masses to be part of the most important service of the year.
Aguinaldos, singing, and ginger
Aguinaldos are Christmas choirs which you make together with friends and sing door to door. It’s tradition for neighbors and friends to receive these groups with joy and give them ginger, hot cocoa, cookies, etc.
From December 1st, all the way to the last day of the month, it’s usual for co-workers or classmates to exchange gifts. These gifts are called “angelitos”, and they’re akin to the tradition of secret Santa except that it’s done daily, weekly, or however often it’s established throughout the month. Moreover, it’s only at the end of the month that the identity of this “little angel” will be revealed.
Día de Reyes
Every 6th of January is the day of the Three Wise Kings. This is another opportunity to give gifts to children, but it’s a tradition for the children to leave some gifts behind for the Wise Kings together with some water and food for their camels.
As you can see
Some of these traditions deeply echo our own. This is even more evident when we mention New Years Eve which is celebrated as much in DR as everywhere else. This is one of the many reasons why at Caritas Smile we try to bring some Holiday cheer to at-need communities in the Dominican Republic. Why don’t you help us bring some cheer as well by either donating or volunteering to work with us? We guarantee that you’ll have a ton of fun and get as many amazing experiences as you give.
Talia Velez is a Growth Impact Officer at Caritas Smile, a non-profit service travel program dedicated to making positive impacts and sustainable changes for women and children in developing countries. Having grown up in Mexico, Talia is keenly aware of the day-to-day issues faced by women and children in countries with more economic vulnerability. Visit our site to learn more about Caritas Smile and join us in our mission to help those in need.