Christmas Traditions of Latin America


Christmas in Peurto Rico

Jadon Smith

Jadon SmithChristmas is a special time of the year. We celebrate the nearing conclusion of the current year in festive traditions. Everyone gets a break from their busy lives to see loved ones they have not seen in months, while feasting on turkey leg and roast beef.  Maybe your relatives live a block away or live in different countries, but no matter where you live, the holiday seems to be universal — it’s a celebration found in all different cultures.

Let’s venture into some of these holiday traditions by reading  stories from Latin American and Spanish friends. To start off our journey, we begin in Argentina with a college student studying to become a pharmacist, described by many to be the ‘mother’ of her friend group.

“I’m Belén, I’m from Argentina and down here we celebrate Christmas in pretty much the same aesthetics as North America; Christmas trees, Santa Claus (he is called Papá Noel here), bunches of red and green lights, feasting on foods packed with calories, y’know the whole shebang! During the holidays we also have smaller celebrations for the children based around the three biblical magi’s, in which kids leave their shoes out at night to receive gifts from them, and also two bowls with grass and water to feed the camels.”

Belen continued, “During the holiday season I do not partake in many traditions to be honest, however, my mother usually prepares decorations. During Christmas we have a huge dinner with the family, and of course she always tries to get me and my brother gifts. We usually eat stuff like mortadella which is a large Italian sausage made with ground heat-cured pork and  flavored with  black pepper.  For snacks, we have garrapiñada. That’s  roasted peanuts in a combination of sugar, water and vanilla essence. You eat them when the peanuts are completed coated and the syrup hardens. For dessert, we have  mantecol, which is a peanut butter fudge with hints of cinnamon.  We also eat fruit salad a lot. The holiday season happens to come in summer, so it’s a bit strange to see decorations that one would associate with cold weather while it’s actually burning hot most days. My family takes Christmas and New Year’s very seriously. So, I always try to participate in the nice dinners because at the end of the day we have family time and good food.”

A special thank you to Belén for sharing your family traditions for Christmas. I can definitely relate to the experience of having a mother who is super big on the holiday. My mother every year, always tries to get me to put up our family tree as soon as Halloween is over.

I reached out to a friend who lives in Puerto Rico. A country located between the Caribbean sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. He is an artist, and currently majoring in theater.

“My name is Ricardo. I am from Puerto Rico, Guaynabo City. During the holidays, it is a very special time for me, and my loved ones. We eat lots of tasty food such as concinar lecheon (cooked pig), arroz con gandules (Puerto Rican rice with peas), coquito (eggnog). -he best way to describe coquito is that the drink is Puerto Rico’s take on eggnog, but it tastes like a pina colada. Coquito can be given in small bottles as a gift to loved ones, and friends.

Now, for the parrandas (parades) we have in Puerto Rico. When it is Christmas time, we party HARD and LOUD! The parrandas are held during the holidays. Think of them as street carnival parties, akin to Christmas caroling but with fireworks and music.”

No matter where you are from, Christmas is a universal holiday anybody can enjoy.

Happy holidays!