This morning when I visited the Latino supermarket, I noticed how the candy aisle was packed with shoppers coming from many Latino countries. (I could hear that they all were speaking Spanish but with different accents.) That is when I wondered if they were also there to look for THAT candy that brings memories of Christmas in their homeland.
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year and also the season where big part of our hearts are somewhere in Latin America thinking about Navidad and everything that means to us: familia, faith, food and happy times!
Read below about the traditions that characterized Christmas in Latin America. There are many things that are very similar between Latino countries, but there are also things that are very different.
Christmas in Latin America
Christmas in Mexico
“Christmas- Navidad– in Mexico is a vibrant, festive time of year with family parties lasting all night as they celebrate together. The streets are decorated with poinsettias and lights, and in many towns they have huge Nativity scenes- often with live animals!” Read more here.
Christmas in Puerto Rico
“December 24 Nochebuena is Christmas Eve and families gather on this night and wait until midnight to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Catholic families attend a special mass called the Misa de Gallo (mass of the rooster) and the service is sung in aguinaldos (traditional Puerto Rican Christmas songs). Gifts are exchanged on this night….Read more here.
Christmas in the Dominican Republic
“People of the Dominican Republic, as a general rule, love Christmas. Many who have emigrated to other places will return to the island during the holidays for large family reunions. It is a special holiday revolving around family and food.” Read more here
Christmas in Costa Rica
The vast majority of Costa Ricans are Catholic, so Christmas is a joyous festival there. As in many countries, the focus is on family and especially children. They have a huge celebration at the Children’s Museum (Museo de los Niño), which we visited last year, and a big tree lighting ceremony at the Hospital de Niños (Children’s Hospital). Read more here.
Christmas in Colombia
” Everything starts on December 7th with “La Noche de la Velitas,” a night for everyone to celebrate la Inmaculada Concepcion. You will find candles in many houses, and they will stay lit all, night and the celebration continues until December 8th. From December 16 to the 24th, many families gather to recite prayers and sing Christmas songs next to the Nativity scence. This is called “Las Novenas” because it lasts nine days.” Read more here.
Christmas in Ecuador
“Christmas season usually kicks off in early November when families and businesses start embellishing their walls with decorations and displaying their Christmas trees and nativity sets which are the most important symbols of the Ecuadorean Christmas. These two elements perfectly show the combination of traditional and modern elements of the Christmas in Ecuador.” Read more here.
Christmas in Peru
“Of course, Christmas feels different because of the weather. Here, December ushers in winter cold and thoughts of snow. When I lived in Peru we were in the jungle and so December was warm like all the other months. There might have been more rain than before, but I missed the sensory experience Christmas usually brought. On the coast, December is early summer, though high in the Andes you might find some Christmas snow. Another big difference is that Peruvians celebrate Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) as the main event. After arriving home from Mass or a Christmas Eve service, the whole family (kids included!) sets off firecrackers or watches fireworks at midnight.” Read more here.
Christmas in Bolivia
“Christmas is celebrated in Bolivia from December 24th to January 6th. However, the most important night for this season is Chrismas Eve. With 81% of the population Catholic and almost 14% being Protestant and Evangelic. Christmas is a holiday with deeply religious connotation.” Read more here.
Christmas in Brazil
“Each year Rio de Janeiro celebrates the lighting of the Lagoa Christmas tree, a floating Christmas tree that stands 279 ft tall. The celebration includes fireworks, ballet performances and a symphonic orchestra (this may vary from year to year).” Read more here.
Christmas in Argentina
What Are your Favorite Christmas Latino Traditions?
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