What are the Christmas traditions in Puerto Rico?
Christmas celebrations in the island start after Thanksgiving day and continue until January 22. There are ceremonies held in the Catholic Church, these are: "Misas de Aguinaldo" which are held from December 17 to the 24 (held at four or five of the morning), "Misa de Gallo" on December 25 (held at midnight).
Throughout the season there are "asaltos" and "parrandas" which mainly consists on people caroling at your door in the late hours at night, you inviting them in, giving them food and once the party is over at that house they take it to another, this goes on until the wee hours of the morning.
December 25 is Christmas Day. The birth of Jesus celebrated and due to the North American influence on the island Santa Claus also visits the children
On December 28 the massacre held by Herod is commemorated by celebrating "El Dia de los inocentes" or day of the innocent, there is a mask festival in the town of Hatillo held that day.
On January 5th the children pick up grass and put it in a box, the box is placed underneath the bed or the Christmas tree. This grass is for the Wise Men's Camels and in turn the Wise Men will leave gifts which will be found by the child on January 6, day of the epiphany, "Día de los Tres Reyes" or Three Magi Day. (yes, kids and adults get presents twice) Another well known celebration held the 5th is the Promise of the Three Wise Men. This celebration happens in the town of Camuy and has been kept by the family of Don Florencio Cabán since the 1900's.
January 7 is the beginning of the "octavitas". Not only the people who received parrandas are obliged to return the favor but also on the 7,8 and 9 are the days of Melcchior, Gaspar and Balthasar respectively.
Last, but not least are the Festivities of the "Calle San Sebastián" on Old San Juan. These festivities start on January 18 and end on January 22. It is a huge event that starts with a procession and after that there are artists, artisans and pretty much partying throughout the night. But Christmas traditions on the island also includes certain foods.
People love to eat pig roasted on a spit, rice with pigeon peas and "pasteles" which are made with plantain dough, filled with meat, wrapped in plantain leaves and then boiled. Typical desserts include "Tembleque" or Coconut Custard and "Arroz con Dulce" which consists of rice cooked with ginger, brown sugar, cinammon, coconut milk and raisins. One favorite Christmastime drink is "Coquito" which is like the egg nog but made with coconut milk, coconut cream, egg yolk, condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and rum.