‘Tis the Season: A Guide to Holiday Celebrations in the Dominican Republic
Here at Cabarete Palm Beach Condos, we got a festive spirit. But what holidays does the Dominican Republic celebrate? We created a comprehensive guide for you. Keep reading to find out what to expect from a Christmas meal, how to make your kids extra happy this holiday season, and what to do to drive evil spirits to leave your house.
Getting to experience Dominican culture is one reason why vacationing in Cabarete is better than staying at an all-inclusive hotel. And celebrations are a big part of what makes the Dominican Republic so unique. So, grab a festive beverage and read about the seven biggest holidays in the Dominican Republic!
Christmas in the Dominican Republic
Christmas, or Navidad, is one of the most important holidays in the DR. Preparations start as early as October and get pretty intense in December. Christmas is a family holiday. Many Dominicans who live abroad fly back to the DR to celebrate at home with their loved ones.
Here at Cabarete Palm Beach Condos, we love traditional Dominican food. This is why La Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve, might be our favorite night of the year! Dominicans have a celebratory Christmas dinner on December 24th, not the 25th. Fair warning, you might miss Santa’s arrival because you’ll be in a food coma!
Many families stay up the night before Christmas Eve, roasting pigs until crispy perfection. The pork roast, or puerco asado, is a traditional Christmas dish with a connection to the Tainos, the indigenous population of the island. The word “barbecue” in English came from Arawak, the language spoken by the Tainos!
Other traditional Dominican Christmas dishes are pasteles en hoja, banana leaves stuffed with beef, chicken, fish, and arroz con gandules, rice with pigeon peas. And don’t forget about ponche, eggnog with a Caribbean twist, and a generous serving of Dominican rum!
New Year‘s in the Dominican Republic
New Year, or Año Nuevo, comes right in time after you’ve recovered from the pork roast coma. Families and friends gather again, tables packed with meats and ensalada rusa, a variation of a traditional Russian salad made with boiled potatoes, carrots, and eggs.
Dominicans have unique traditions to prepare for the new year. And after living through 2020, they are as relevant as ever! Many Dominican families spend December 31st cleaning their houses to get rid of the evil spirits from the passing year. Cleaning also includes throwing away old things and buying new brooms, which can’t be brought into the house until January 1st. It’s also common to buy new clothes. It’s customary to open the windows and doors at midnight to let the evil spirits out. We call it #SelfCare.
Then it’s PARTY time! You bet there will be a lot of dancing and laughter until sunrise, which you can watch on one of Cabarete’s beautiful beaches.
Three Kings Day in the Dominican Republic
If you want to make the holiday season even more magical for your kids, celebrate Three Kings Day or Día de los Reyes Magos. Also known as Epiphany, it’s celebrated on January 6th to commemorate the day when three wise men visited baby Jesus. And it’s the day children in the DR dream about for the entire year!
Día de los Reyes Magos is all about giving presents to children. It’s not customary to give kids gifts for Christmas, but Three Kings Day more than makes up for it.
In the days leading up to the holiday, kids write letters to the Kings and ask for presents. It’s a custom similar to letters to Santa. The night before, they leave bundles of grass for the Kings’ camels and treats for the Kings themselves. In the morning, children open their presents, and the family spends the rest of the day together.
Use our Cabarete gift-giving guide and make your kids’ holidays extra fun this year!
Holy Week in the Dominican Republic
Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of the biggest holidays in the Dominican Republic. It may be even more important than Christmas! Many Dominicans get the entire week off work leading up to Easter Sunday and travel to be together with their families. You’ll see lots of people having barbecues on the beach and enjoying habichuelas con dulce, a delicious Dominican Easter snack.
Semana Santa is a serious religious holiday, so beware that some places may be closed. There may be noise restriction policies starting as early as 6PM, and alcohol sales may also be restricted. However, you may also see a big party going on, especially on the Saturday before Easter. People celebrate in different ways. The best thing to do is to be respectful of others and follow Dominicans’ lead on what’s acceptable and not.
Mother’s Day in the Dominican Republic
We wouldn’t be here without our mothers, and Dominicans know this very well. The Dominican Republic celebrates Mother’s Day on May 30th. Even though it’s not an official public holiday, it’s a huge deal. Dominicans try to make their mothers feel as special as possible, giving presents, picking up on additional household responsibilities, and taking them out for dinner. It’s also common to have big family parties that start early and continue late into the night. Drink a cold Presidente, celebrate with the locals, and give the mothers in your life some extra attention on this special day!
We hope you get to celebrate these holidays in Cabarete! And if you want to experience even more vibrant Dominican culture, take Spanish lessons in Cabarete, or learn how to communicate like a Dominican without saying a word. And if you’re into cooking, use our fully equipped kitchen to make these Dominican recipes!
What are your favorite Dominican holidays to celebrate? Share in the comments!