Christmas in Venezuela
Nov 04, 2021
An annual festival, Christmas is one of the most celebrated carnivals in the world. Different countries have different cultures revolving around Christmas. While you will find Japanese people arrange their Christmas dinner in KFC, people in Greenland eat raw whale skin with an arctic bird call Auk wrapped in seal skin. In Austria, there is a chance for you to meet the Christmas demons at the same time children in Italy get their gifts from an old witch. With 70% of the population as Catholic, Christmas in Venezuela has its own tradition according to their diverse culture, which sometimes may leave outsiders astonished.
In this article, I will gone through all the possible Christmas traditions are in Venezuela. Now, I would like to provide you a bunch of traditional Cristmas in Venezuela.
Misa de Aguinaldo
The celebration of Christmas in Venezuela starts way before other countries. Many people start the festival on the 4th of December, the day of Santa Barbara. While officially the Venezuelans start the celebration in the morning of the 16th of December, and until 24th of December in a unique way by attending masses.
Locally it is called Misa de Aguinaldo. During these days, mainly the people of capital city Caracas glide to the Christmas mass on roller skates. Children go to sleep by tying strings on their toes in these nine days. They leave one end of the string outside the window so that skaters can pull strings and let them know that it's the time for the celebration.
This tradition has become so much popular that the government of Venezuela now decided to close certain streets of Caracas till 8 a.m. during this time of the year for safe skating of families. After the rally, it is a tradition for the people to enjoy snacks and coffee.
Place of Firecrackers
Firecrackers are also an indispensable part of Venezuelan Christmas. From the morning till the midnight people explode the firecrackers regularly. As there are nine carol services for Christmas in Venezuela and at least one of these masses are attended by the people.
They don't have to worry about getting up early in the dawn as people ring bells and explode the firecrackers to wake them up. Parents buy their children firecrackers irrespective of their danger. As a result, Venezuelans explode more fireworks than other countries.
Moreover, there are some peculiar traditions which are only seen in Venezuela. There is no Santa Claus figure in Venezuelan Christmas. In December, children write letters to El Niño Jesús or the Baby Jesus for their presents. And instead of Santa Claus, the baby Jesus brings the gifts to the children while they are sleeping.
Older people also gift one another. Some people give Cesta Navideña the Spanish for a Christmas basket, which usually contrail champagne or wine bottle, cookies and any other kind of non-perishable foods. Office workers secretly buy colleagues present just like the secret Santa. People play a game to get their presents from the secret Santa, and this is a prevalent ritual at the workplaces.
Working people get Christmas bonuses from their employers. After workers get their Christmas bonuses, cities get almost empty because these people travel to their native places from the cities. People reunite with their friends and family, do parties and other fun stuff. Almost all local businesses wrap up from the middle of December until the school holidays end.
Free Spirit and Gifts
Venezuelan people believe the spirit of Christmas comes down to the earth on the 21st of December to fulfil their wishes. This Nordic tradition is now also a culture of Venezuela.
The Christmas Spirit brings happiness and harmony among the people. Some people clean their houses the night before the Christmas Spirit arrives thinking that their home would be free of all the negative energies. Certain regions of Venezuela have some popular traditions which are not very usual.
Dance and theatre mixed in the states of Carabobo and Aragua, which is known as Los Pastores, Spanish of the word shepherds. This depicts the story of the shepherds' role during the Jesus' birth in the states of Merida, Tachira, Trujillo and Barinas, which are in the Andean region, people pay homage to the newly born Christ.
These festivals are so peculiar that they are carried out even in January and February. People sing in front of baby Jesus on these occasions.
People decorate their house with the pesebres, instead of Christmas trees, which are also known as Nacimientos. Pesebres are more detailed nativity scenes than the Nacimientos. These scenes depict the landscape of Bethlehem. Also, there can be seen the images of humans, angels, animal, etc. However, North American traditions such as lights and artificial Christmas trees are getting popularity among the people these days.
The people in the morning mass skating rally bring these scenes with them. People also paint their house some days before the Christmas season. They buy new clothes for both the Christmas and New Year's Eve. Many believe that wearing yellow on New Year's Eve bring luck for the coming year.
Songs of Christmas
On the Christmas season, people dance to gaitas songs from the state of Zulia. These songs were created from the neighborhoods of Zulia and are a mix of African, Spanish and indigenous instrumentation and rhythms to give them a folklore dimension. Heard frequently during the time of Christmas, these are played on different instruments such as
- Cuatro and
While some people sing the Gaitas, some sing aguinaldos which are the Christmas carols. These are associated with gifts because people gather in groups and visit door-to-door singing these songs with cuatro, furruco and maracas. People of the house offer the singers foods such as cakes, chocolates etc. Villancicos are also sung during the Christmas period.
Noche Buena and Christmas Dinner
People of Venezuela celebrate the Christmas eve (known as Noche Buena) more significantly than the Christmas Day itself. After the 24th of December's end, miso de Gallo is observed, which is actually a midnight mass.
This is the last mass of the Christmas where people rush to the church After their Christmas dinner. People return to their home from different places and enjoy the meal with their close ones from around 9 PM to 10 PM.
The foods usually enjoyed are the traditional ones such as the
- Hallaca - a meat wrap inside corn-dough in a plantain leaf;
- Ponche crema - a special drink made from rum, condensed milk with eggs, and sugar;
- Ensalada de gallina - one kind of chicken salad;
- Stuffed pernil or pavo - turkey or pork thigh;
- Pan de jamon - mainly raisins and ham filled bread;
- Dulce de lechoza - a dessert made from green papaya etc.
Although these are the most common foods which are popular among families, many of them have other foods according to their family culture. Some families also enjoy modern dishes, such as turkey, salads etc. During the hours of midnight, the sound of firecrackers announces the coming of Christmas Day. Adults of families drink wine and open their gifts.
Like all other countries around the globe, the 25th of December is Christmas Day in Venezuela. People observe this day as the birth date of Jesus. Children wake up early in the morning to receive the gifts Niño Jesus has left them. Although the festivity of the whole country revolves around this particular day, Christmas day is much less lavish than the other days of 16th to the 24th of December. And it is understandable because people usually spend the day with their families as this is a national holiday. They enjoy the lunch which is sometimes made from the leftovers of the Noche Buena.
The celebration of Christmas continues till the new year's eve. Many people observe the tradition of eating twelve grapes, which was brought to Venezuela from Spain. Some eat lentils during midnight for their economic prosperity.
Those who wish to get married stand on a chair and rings Rebel during this time. People in some regions celebrate the Day of Innocents on the 28th of December where the killings of infants by order of King Herod is commemorated.
On the 6th of January, another festival called Epiphany is celebrated in a few regions of the country. This is an important date for the Catholics where the three kings were arrived in Bethlehem to show their compliance to the baby Jesus. This day officially terminates the Christmas season.
Watch the video to know know about Christmas in Venezuela. Click here to watch.
Roller Skating in Venezuelan Christmas
Venezuelan people perform an exception which is roller skating to the church along with all other typical Christmas traditions such as cake, partying, etc. Christmas in Venezuela isn't complete without these roller skates. Although it is not exactly known why people use roller skates over the other skates, it is believed that these are used because of their wheels.
The reason behind it is the weather in Venezuela. Also, because of the demographics of this country, there is a blend of cultures in Venezuela, namely Columbia, Brazil and the Caribbean Sea, which leaves the country with their distinct identity.
Like many other countries, in Venezuela, there were many festivals which were performed countrywide are now obsolete. Some are lost due to the economic situation of the country. Still, people try to find joy in different kinds of celebrations, no matter who they are or where they come from.
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