Without a doubt, Puerto Rico celebrates Christmas like no other place. The holiday season in Puerto Rico is a truly unique showcase of culture, music and finger-licking food.
While the Christmas celebrations in the mainland begin the 25th of December, in Puerto Rico, Christmas begins right after Thanksgiving dinner and ends with the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián, which are typically held mid-January. So if you’re looking to celebrate the longest holiday celebration in the world, here are a few things you shouldn’t miss.
It’s 1AM and you are cozily resting in your bed snuggled under the warm comforter. All of the sudden someone knocks on your door. You open up you’re greeted with a screeching “¡Asalto!” and a group of around 20 people who start singing and playing the maracas, panderos and güiros. You’ve just been blessed with a parrranda, the Puerto Rican version of a Christmas carol. The host usually lets them in, feeds them and provides plenty of cocktails.
After a few songs, it’s time to move on to the next house. Mind you, this goes on way past the wee hours of the morning.
Lechón & Coquito
Although roasted pigs are served year-round, lechón is especially popular during the holiday season. For a limited time, almost every restaurant pulls out their crunchy, mouthwatering version of this local delicatessen. But nowhere is lechón more popular than in Guavate, a strip of road lined up with lechoneras on both sides.
Then there’s coquito, a sort of eggnog made with coconut and rum that can be found at every family dinner during the holidays. If you want to get your hands on some just ask around, almost everybody can point you in the right direction. If you just can’t wait until Christmas, here’s an easy to follow recipe so you can make some at home any time of the year.
2 oz Cream of Coconut
1 ½ oz Coconut Milk
1 oz Evaporated Milk
2 oz Light Puerto Rican Rum
1 Teaspoon of Cloves
2 Cinnamon Sticks
Pinch of Fresh Ginger
Mix all ingredients in a blender, except the cinnamon sticks. Serve in a bottle, add the cinnamon sticks and let it chill in the fridge. Serve chilled and get ready for a delicious Puerto Rican Christmas.
New-years Eve after dark
In Puerto Rico, people say goodbye to Año Viejo and hello to a fresh new start. Families, couples, the young and the old celebrate everywhere amidst a flurry of fireworks, food and fine company. If you come down, be sure to check out some of the hotels in Old San Juan, Condado and Isla Verde. Hotels like La Concha in Condado, El Hotel San Juan in Isla Verde and the Caribe Hilton in San Juan usually go all out with see and be seen ballroom bashes.
The Three Kings
The night of January the 5th, every single kid in Puerto Rico goes to the nearest grass patch and plucks just enough to cover the bottom of a shoebox, which is to be placed outside the room. The next morning, the curious little ones wake up to find themselves in front of an empty shoebox and a gift next to it. Every kid has their own story about actually SEEING one of the camels the Three Kings came in.