Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico is like no other.  We visit every chance we get for an unforgettable holiday and enjoy the nochebuena traditions. It’s an opportunity to immerse our son in his cultural heritage.

Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico – Tradition #1

Beautiful nativity set up at the church.  This was in Parroquia Nuestra Sra. de la Merced in Puerto Rico.

Nochebuena is celebrated on Christmas Eve (December 24th) with a huge family gathering, food, music, singing aguinaldos Navideños (similar to Christmas carols), and at midnight everyone goes to the Misa de Gallo (Rooster’s Mass: a solemn and festive Mass). Also, it is important to note that not everyone goes to church on Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico (unless you’re Catholic).  Puerto Rico is a very diverse island with different religions.
The party and celebration would continue in the homes and it would go on until the late hours of the night!
During Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico we also have a gift exchange with all of the extended family members (though little ones will have to wait until morning to see what Santa brought for them, yeah Puerto Rico has been commercialized with Santa Claus, as well!).
My fondest memories growing up were always on nochebuena because it was a time to rejoice and celebrate around the Nativity scene for baby Jesus to be born and to celebrate with the family.

Christmas Eve Main Meal – Tradition #2

Let’s talk about one of the most important tradition during this season.  The food!  The food is a grand feast with Puerto Rican delicacies such as: pernil, a roasted pig on a stick, arroz con gandules (Rice with pigeon peas), pasteles (ground green bananas with a filling of meat), guineitos en escabeche (Sautéed Green bananas). 

Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico

Christmas Eve Desserts

Flan (Puerto Rican Custard), and of course,  arroz con dulce (sweetened coconut rice), tembleque (coconut-based dessert), and the famous coquito (similar to egg nog but it’s made out of coconut milk, and it has alcohol).  Luckily coquito can be made without alcohol. I also make a non-alcoholic coquito for kids. Yes, Puerto Ricans love to eat, and they love their coquito. 

 

Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico – Tradition #3

The music! Belting out aguinaldos (similar to Christmas carols) with the maraca, güiro, guitar and tambourine is the essence of Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico. My brother-in-law is the one with the Santa hat, and he can sing!  Our son was overjoyed with his first nochebuena in Puerto Rico! Below you can see my Mom’s Christmas tree and the Nativity. nochebuena en puerto rico
Our son’s first nochebuena was when he was barely 1 1/2 yrs. old so I’m hoping that looking at pictures, and reading this post will help jog the memories that we’ve created for him. So one day, he can understand that this is part of his heritage and culture.
This night is about spending time with family, friends and loved ones.  Singing, laughing, eating and celebrating Christmas Eve and making memories for years to come.
Though we may not celebrate it here at home (US), we will cherish the memories, and look forward to future celebrations of nochebuena in our beautiful island of Puerto Rico. ¡Feliz Navidad!
What special traditions do you celebrate? Would love to hear from you! Please comment, share, or like! 

Looking for resources on Christmas in Puerto Rico or about Puerto Rico and it’s culture for kids? I got you covered! I created this resources to help educators and homeschoolers learn about the people, traditions and culture.

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Christmas Eve in Puerto Rico

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14 Comments

  1. I love your photos – pig roasts are also big here which was something new to me. The smell and the taste are amazing but I'm still getting used to seeing the whole pig on the spit.

  2. Wow and wow……Sis this is a beautiful way to teach my Prince(Leonides)…….This way he could remember us his family and our culture. ♡Love you Sis" and my nephew to…. and sis remember that we have the longest chrismas in the world it finish with the Fiestas de la calle de San Sebastian y las octavitas…….love you guys hugs n kises from Puerto Rico♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  3. Wow and wow……Sis this is a beautiful way to teach my Prince…….This way he could remember us his family and our culture. ♡Love you Sis" and my nephew to…. and sis remember that we have the longest chrismas in the world it finish with the Fiestas de la calle de San Sebastian y las octavitas…….love you guys hugs n kises from Puerto Rico♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  4. What a beautiful celebration! It seems somewhat similar to Costa Rica, I know they all get together for a big carne asada on Noche Buena. So special your little guy got to celebrate it with everyone in Puerto Rico! Hopefully you will all get to go again soon, although I know how expensive it is to travel around Christmas! We would LOVE to go to Costa Rica for Christmas one year but keep putting it off because of the cost.

  5. Awe thank you my little brother for commenting! Although far from Puerto Rico, I want your nephew to always remember and know what his culture and heritage are. 🙂 True, Puerto Rico has the longest Christmas in the world! Wish we were there with you and the rest of the family!

  6. Thank you Leanna! I too wish, I can go to Puerto Rico every year on Christmas! It's very costly, especially during that time of the year. He's 4 1/2 now, and we haven't been able to go back during that season. Who knows, maybe one day! 🙂

  7. Wow! My dad is puerto rican and he always bought a part of the pig and called it lechon but you have the real deal. Awesome

  8. Tarde pero seguro!!!!wow there's so many thing to see and read in your blog, that it's amazing!!love it!!!

  9. Jajajaja claro que si! Preparate una tazita de café y sientate a leer tranquila! Abrazos!


  10. Any particular reason why you don’t celebrate Noche Buena in the US?

    1. Author

      This is a Latino thing and many Latino homes in the USA celebrate it. We’re a small family of three with no other extended Latino families around it’s not the same. So we just do Christmas day with a dinner.

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