Being predominantly Catholic, Christmas day takes a very special place in the Dominican Republic’s holidays. Sure, there are no white Christmases or Christmas balls, but Dominicans have their special way of celebrating the centerpiece of all Christian holidays in the Caribbean.
First off, Dominicans start celebrating Christmas earlier than most people around the world. They start so early that their Christmas dinner, in fact, is held on the 24th of December, not on the traditional 25th observed by the rest of the world.
But the Christmas mood begins far earlier than that. Beginning on the first day of December, the Dominicans start playing traditional melodic Christmas tunes. Usually, groups of 2 to 4 persons play the official Dominican music, the Merengue, with the accordion, the drum and the güira to the tunes of Christmas carols, which set off anticipation for the celebrations to come.
The sense of community is very strong among Dominicans. This is why it is not surprising that informal Christmas parties, called the Aguinaldos, parties that are open for everybody and not just for a few family members are held throughout the nation. People could come from anywhere, whether they are invited or not.
On most cases, people who participate in the Aguinaldos are the singing parties who, on their way to the Christmas party, have already visited a number of houses where they were either given a home-made ginger beverage called the ‘jengibre’ or a taste of what is served on the dinner table of the family they have visited, called ‘bocadita’.
And of course, once everyone has gathered in a house where the party is set to kick off, partying, dancing, eating, and drinking begins. Beginning with traditional Dominican Republic carols, this party continues well into midnight.
The Aguinaldos have always been the typical Dominican Republic way of celebrating Christmas. These informal community parties are enjoyed in the most populated areas of the country where the sense of community is very strong.
Because most of the people in the Dominican Republic are mostly poor or middle class, the way Christmas is celebrated varies. It is very important though for every Dominican family to be together on Christmas eve and Christmas day. Both are official non-working holidays.
What would be Christmas if there are no Christmas decorations?
The Dominicans have a very distinct way of decorating their homes during Christmas. Most families have recreations of the Nativity or the Birth of Jesus Christ within their homes. These are called ‘Nacimiento’. ‘Charamico’, the Dominican Republic’s version of the Christmas tree, is the literal translation of ‘dry branch’. To serve as a Christmas tree, the ‘Charamico’ is painted white and decorated with typical Christmas tree decors like balls, lights, and ribbons.
Dominicans also have their own special version of the European flower for Christmas called Poinsettia, which they call, ‘Flor de Pascua’. Most homes also grow the ‘Estrella de Natividad’, literally translated as the ‘Star of the Birth’ of Christ.
Truly, Dominican Republic has very special ways of celebrating the festive season of Christmas.
Family Fun Christmas Activities
Family is at the core of the Christmas season, so creating fun memories with your family is always at the top of the must-do list this time of year.
What fun activities can you incorporate into your family life that makes Christmas memorable and fun? Plenty, really. There are the traditional and the things a little bit out of the box.
Think back to your childhood and Christmas time in your house. Are there particular memories that are clearer than others? Those are likely the traditions your parents created for you and your siblings. Trying to create traditions in your own home with your own children is one way to make Christmas fun, exciting and memorable.
Perhaps it’s decorating cookies, or making gingerbread houses. Maybe when you were younger your mom always had something yummy smelling coming from the kitchen. You can create the same tradition by simply keeping potpourri warmed and smelling nice, if you don’t have the time to bake frequently.
If you want to do a fun family activity in the kitchen, but baking’s not your thing, you can make a variety of other gift items in your kitchen. The kids love making chocolate and candy covered pretzel sticks, and you can pair those with homemade hot cocoa mix to give as gifts.
Be sure to incorporate music into your family’s traditions. How about some family fun singing Christmas carols or creating your own family music CD? Record your family singing Christmas carols and use that CD as your music CD for the holidays. If you all are particularly talented, you could make these look pretty and give them as gifts.
Many families like to cut down their own Christmas tree. This is a really fun family activity that can add a lot to the Christmas season. Christmas tree farms are located just about everywhere. Check into a local grower’s group for locations.
You simply show up, grab a saw (this is mom or dad’s job) and go hunting. Depending on the location of the tree farm, you might walk only a short distance, or you might have to hike up and down hills and far into the farm’s reaches to find just the right tree.
To add even more fun to this activity, create another family tradition that will annually go with the tree cutting. It can be as simple as also having lunch (at the same place each year) and picking up candy to eat in the car on the way home. You might also add a shopping excursion to the day; after the tree is safe at home in a bucket of water, you might all go shopping as a family for some new ornaments.
Other fun family activities can include annual visits to certain places in your community. Does your town have an annual “Christmas tree lane” where all the homes on one street decorate (sometimes in an over the top fashion) for the holidays? You can make a tradition of driving down the street each year, or walking the entire street, if the weather allows. Walking gives the kids a chance to see some of the details of the various décor items.
Many children think hot cocoa is an essential part of the Christmas season. If that’s the case with yours, you could start a fun family activity each year where you make a big batch of hot cocoa mix at the start of the season.
Let the kids have a small cup each night before bed during the month of December and closer to Christmas, add special items to the hot cocoa, like mini marshmallows one night and whipped cream another. Be sure to leave this family-made hot cocoa for Santa on Christmas Eve!
At a certain age, children enjoy decorating their room for the holidays. One fun family Christmas activity is to encourage this decoration by letting the kids shop for items to put in their rooms and letting them do the decorating. Be sure to take a picture of them in their decorated room each year. They’ll enjoy looking at the pictures year after year.
Christmas Tree Themes: Are They Really Worth It?
Do you celebrate Christmas? If you do, chances are you will celebrate the holidays with a Christmas tree. Each year, the majority of Americans purchase a Christmas tree for their homes. Whether that tree is real or an artificial one, it is often decorated with Christmas decorations. Different individuals decorate their Christmas trees in different ways.
Many choose to theme their Christmas trees. If you are planning on decorating your Christmas tree this year, you may be wondering whether or not it is really worth it to decorate your Christmas tree with a theme. In all honesty, it depends.
Before you can start to determine whether or not it would be worth it for you to decorate your Christmas tree with a theme, it is important to note that different individuals have different views on themes. There are many Christmas tree owners that choose to theme their Christmas trees by having everything a particular color. For instance, there are some who choose to have a white Christmas tree with gold and red decorations. All of the decorations typically match.
While many take this simple approach, there are others who take it a step further. There are some parents who tend to focus their Christmas tree theme around a cartoon character or something else that their kids enjoy. The decorations used are all typically associated in one way or another.
The type of theme that you would like to use, if you choose to use one, will help to determine whether or not you should go through the hassle of decorating your Christmas tree with a particular theme. For example, it was mentioned above that many just theme their Christmas trees with a particular set of colors.
While this can still be difficult to do, it is one of the easier ways to have a Christmas tree theme, especially if the colors are traditional holiday colors. Anything different and you may spend days or even weeks searching for Christmas tree decorations; Christmas tree decorations that may be more than you are willing to pay for. So, if you are interested in decorating your Christmas tree with a theme, but without having to go through all of the hassle, you are advised to take the simplest approach.
If you do decide to decorate your Christmas tree with a particular theme, you may want to think about shopping for your Christmas tree decorations early. Around the months of October and November, the majority of individuals start shopping for Christmas decorations. When this occurs, the selection of decorations available drastically decreases.
When you want to theme your Christmas tree, there is a good chance that you will want certain types of Christmas tree decorations, such as lights and ornaments. If you want to make sure that you get exactly the Christmas tree decorations that you were looking for, you are advised to start purchasing Christmas decorations as soon as they become available or as soon as you make the decision do decorate your Christmas tree a certain way.
If you are unable to find the Christmas tree decorations that you were looking for in one of your local retail stores, you are advised to give online shopping some thought. In fact, if you are planning on having a somewhat unique Christmas tree theme, you will find it easier to find what you are looking for online.
When searching for themed Christmas tree decorations online, you will want to perform a standard internet search. For instance, if you were planning on having the theme of your Christmas tree be a popular cartoon character or a well-known Christmas symbol, such as an angel, you will want to tailor your search to exactly what you are looking for.
In addition to everything that was mentioned above, it is also important to examine the time that it will take to theme a Christmas tree. When it comes to themed Christmas trees, most tree owners want to get their Christmas trees exactly as they envisioned it in their minds. Unfortunately, that can take a lot of time and experimenting. It does not mean that you shouldn’t theme your Christmas tree this year, it just means that you many want to examine whether or not you really have the time to do so.
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