Christmas in Venezuela
Venezuelan traditions are very rich because of the great variety of cultures that has
been assimilated into its society. Even though unfortunately some of the traditions
are disappearing Venezuelans still continue to preserve the family unit centered
around Christmas activities.
Venezuelans start on December 24th with preparations that emphasize the Catholic
aspect of the season. Most families put up an elaborate scene of the nativity and will
wait until midnight on Christmas Eve to add the figure of baby Jesus. An elaborate
dinner consisting of hallacas, pan de jamon, pavo, pernil de cochino and dulce de
Lechosa forms the traditional Christmas dinner menu. A beverage that is usually
homemade called Ponche crema is also served – this can be alcoholic or
nonalcoholic. The traditional Misa de Gallo is celebrated at midnight and young
people roller skate to the mass. The traditional Christmas songs are called Parrandas
o Aguinaldo. Also present is traditional music from a region called Maracaibo – it is
here where the meaningful Gaitas originated.
Children wait for Baby Jesus to bring the toys and for New Year’s Eve people prepare
the same types of foods. There are parties, drinking and fireworks. Before midnight,
one must place 12 grapes in a glass of champagne and then at midnight you eat one
grape for each strike of the new Year and drink champagne. Neighbors and friends
come out into the street and wish everyone a Happy New Year.
In some neighborhoods some children make a life size doll of Judas and collect
money around the neigborhood. At midnight they buy fireworks, light the fireworks
and burn Judas as a sign of burning the old year and bringing the new with a clean