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How to Celebrate Christmas in the Dominican Republic

By Edited Jan 6, 2016 0 2

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Among the many different holidays that exist to be celebrated worldwide, Christmas is among one of the favorites of so many people. Where one country may celebrate it with lights and ornaments, another country may celebrate it with an entirely different set of displays, ornaments, and tangibles: traditions that vary just as much as their host cultures vary. In the Dominican Republic, while these traditions may be completely different than what some are familiar with, they are nonetheless special as they help to provide and facilitate a warm and welcoming family atmosphere coupled with the same joyous behavior and surprises that are universally known and recognized.

Whether your native country be the Dominican Republic, or you have friends and family who celebrate Christmas in accordance with Dominican culture, this Info Barrel article will teach you exactly what you need to do in order to celebrate Christmas in the Dominican Republic. Bear in mind that, while there are some great parallels in Dominican Republican tradition to what you may be accustomed to in North America, many families in the Dominican Republic are very poor, and, thus, the way and extent to which Christmas is celebrated may be slightly different across social classes. Even still, the importance of family, and the joyful spirit accompanying this festive holiday, and all the days/months leading up to it, transcends one's family's actual ability to purchase gifts or engage in certain traditions.

Things You Will Need

Cleaning Supplies

Step 1

Similar to what many know as "the Secret Santa" exchange of gifts, people in the Dominican Republic engage in a similar tradition, otherwise know as "Angelito" (Little Angels). Just like in North American culture, this gift exchange can be done amongst family or co-workers. This activity/game can take numerous forms in accordance with how you (or anyone) choose to plan and arrange it. In the Dominican Republic, it is typically the norm to begin with exchanging least expensive gifts, leading up to more expensive gifts, that will be given at the end, as the last gift nearest to Christmas. Gifts can be given as frequently, or as infrequently, as the group determines from the onset, however, it is common to stick to one gift exchange per week leading up to Christmas.

Step 2

Practicing your singing voice can be a great way to prepare for the nights of caroling, otherwise called "Las Mananitas", where groups of Dominicans congregate to share in a warm festival atmosphere of delivering joyful spirits of song to their fellow countrymen. In the Dominican Republic, caroling doesn't just stop with singing, however. Along their chosen route of houses, not only do the carolers "sing", but the family/house to whom they sing to is expected to warmly open their doors and provide for them traditional Dominican Republic Christmas food (not the entire meal, but, instead, just a bite or two), and beverages such as coffee, 'jengibre' (a Ginger beverage suitable for the Holidays), or even a drink of rum.

If you are on the caroling end, be sure to leave your house with an empty stomach, and if you are on the receiving end, be sure to prepare enough food to share.

Step 3

Embroiled in tradition, coupled with superstition, one of the most longstanding events in the Dominican Republic is that of cleaning your house or residence of all it's impurities. Stemming from the overwhelming positive attitude of getting rid of all dirty things, in preparation for a pure new year, a massive house-cleaning (think "Spring Cleaning) is conducted around Christmas time leading into the New Year. Those household items, that are the most dirty (brooms, mops, etc.), are removed and replaced with cleaner substitutes. This tradition has it's roots in the idea that great luck will be had and befall a household if they start the new year fresh and clean.

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Jul 29, 2010 10:25am
Great article that lets other countries know what Christmas is like out of their own country.
Jul 29, 2010 12:06pm
Great. I like the idea of starting the new year fresh and clean.
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