Though a traditional Christmas may seem like snow-capped pine trees, icicles dangling precariously from rooftops, ice-skating on the frozen pond, and whipped hot-chocolate in every caroler’s hand, there is an entirely different way to do things. A Christmas in Puerto Rico will be unlike any other in that the warm tropical climate and the gentle breaking of the ocean will fill your holiday dreams with sand and “aguinaldos” (traditional Christmas carols).
Seeing the locals trade in their Santa hats for the signature “pavas” or straw hats is probably the best way to mark the beginning of Christmas season in Puerto Rico. Though the thermometer doesn’t dip down too low, the feeling of Christmas is in the air, and the though the spirit of Christmas remains strong in the hearts of all Puerto Ricans, things go a bit differently down here. What you need to know and want to look out for:
Christmas in Puerto Rico isn’t just a 12 Days of Christmas sort of event. Rather, it’s more like a six week extravaganza starting from the end of November right through to the beginning of January. During this time, be prepared to see a wonderful blend of traditional catholic Christmas traditions (the singing of carols, also called “aguinaldos”), as well as some island mysticism (the sprinkling of sugar outside of one’s door to ward-off bad luck) and cowboy revelry (the signature Puerto Rican “parrandas”).
Once Christmas has passed, don’t get down – when you’re in Puerto Rico there’s more to look forward to than just New Years. Dia de los Inocentes falls on December 28th. Traditionally, this is where men dressed up as evil soldiers, but today it’s celebrated more as a day to play tricks on loved ones. An April Fool’s Day of December.
Any way you cut it, there’s plenty to do in Puerto Rico and there’s no denying the heart of the Puerto Rican Christmas – friends getting together and celebrating the season and the joys of life.
-Contributed by Hudson Hornick