Celebrating The Christmas Holidays In The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has one of the most festive Christmas holidays in the world, and perhaps the longest. In a way, the locals start to celebrate Christmas as early as October. It is a season of dancing, fireworks, carols, family time, and excellent food!
Dominican Republic citizens are very family-oriented, as most of the holiday celebrations and traditions involve the whole family, and are highly involved in the community. Smiles are pasted all over the sanguine faces of the locals, and joviality becomes more infectious and ebullient as the Christmas season approaches.
The Fuegos Artificiales/Fireworks are a special tradition in the Dominican Republic. If your residence is smack dab in the active villages, you might even hear the fireworks right inside your home! Stalls selling fireworks are set up everywhere, and the fireworks range from firecrackers to rockets, from sparklers to the cohetes y petardos. If you have the zeal to impress – and if you have the financial resources – you can even set up a big fireworks display. This makes you an instant hero in the eyes of the locals!
People from the Dominican Republic love to decorate. Like stated earlier, they celebrate the Christmas holidays early, so even a few months from December, the houses and the streets are already teeming with magnificent and colorful decorations. Everyday is a fiesta! The most popular decoration in the Dominican Republic is the ‘Charamico’.
One just needs to get a dried branch, paint it white, and decorate it with an assorted array of baubles such as ribbons, glass balls, lights and angelic figures. Under the branch is placed a diorama of a ‘Naciamento’, with figures depicting the birth of Jesus Christ as Joseph, Mary, and the Three Kings look on. Simply put, it is a depiction of the Nativity.
LA MISA DEL GALL/MIDNIGHT MASS
As Christmas time approaches, the festivities slowly escalate. But at an appointed hour on Christmas Eve, the Dominicans make a point to attend the midnight mass, which is called the La Misa del Gall in their language. It is a mass to commemorate and express gratitude to the Christian God for the bounty that they have amassed throughout the year.
After the midnight mass, the Noche Buena – or midnight meal – heralds the actual day of Christmas. This is the peak of the festivities. Gifts are exchanged, delicious food is eaten, and fireworks ensue. And best of all, families get to spend time together, have fun, and affections expressed in a more profound manner.
If you love travel, I would highly suggest that you spend at least one Christmas in your lifetime in the Dominican Republic. Go there as early as the middle of November, and take in all the festivities around you. Walk the busy villages, interact with the locals, listen to the rhythm of the merengue, smell the aroma of the fantastic food as it whisks from the inviting homes of the villages.
Learn the culture and assimilate yourself into it. I guarantee that you will feel like a special member of the ‘familia‘. The Dominican Republic locals are some of the most hospitable people in the world. If you do all this, you might even think of going back next year, and bringing your own ‘familia’ with you!