In Puerto Rico, Christmas celebrations are not limited to December 25th, but rather enjoy about a month’s worth of festivities. The festivities begin in early December and in our present times end in January, on the Day of the Three Kings (Dia de los Reyes) January 6th, which is the day families take down the Christmas tree and officially end Christmas.
Christmas caroling is very much a serious part of the holiday traditions. Christmas caroling as enjoyed by Puerto Ricans is known as a “parranda.” People assemble and surprise neighbors and friends with music which forms a “parranda” Unlike here in the United States where caroling only involves people singing, in Puerto Rico it also involves musical instruments. Guitars, marracas, tamborines, el guiro and various other instruments are used. The musicians and carolers move from house to house, gathering up the owners from the homes they’ve just caroled. So the gang (the “parranda”) gets bigger and bigger as they move from house to house.
On Christmas Eve/Christmas Day at midnight Catholics attend the “Misa Del Gallo” (We know it here in the United States as “Midnight Mass ,” but the literal translation is “The Rooster’s Mass”)
Starting from “Noche Buena” (Christmas Eve) and continuing throughout the holidays, there is much food to be had. “Pasteles”-grated green bananas are formed into a dough like paste with meat folded in, wrapped in banana leaves and placed in parchment leaves and boiled for about 45 minutes. “Lechon asado” (roasted pig,) Arroz con dulce” (rice pudding) and “coquito”, an alcoholic beverage are other delicacies reserved for the holidays. Neighbors make these dishes and pass them on to their other neighbors, so it’s not uncommon to have pasteles in your refrigerator, for example, from three different households, or different versions of coquito.
Of course a part of celebrating “Las Navidades” incorporates New Year’s Day. Grapes are supposed to be