This year we rang in the new year in a small agricultural town in Puerto Rico called Maricao. Maricao is mostly known for its coffee production, cooler temperatures (about 10-15 degrees cooler than lowlands) and slower pace of life.
Our gracious hosts then showed us around the farm in the morning and we admired all the beautiful tropical plants. We also noticed that while Maricao is only about 20 miles away as the crow flies from Rincón, it is actually quite a bit different when it comes to vegetation because of the climate differences. It really was quite a bit colder than in Rincón. Britton and I both had to snuggle under two quilts to stay warm! Maybe we are just getting acclimated, but it was the first time in Puerto Rico that we were a bit chilled.
Puerto Rican typical food is served through the festivities and specially for the Christmas Eve celebration. Dinner, which includes a rice dish such as s(Gandules), , prepared with a dough of grated green bananas and plantains stuffed with meat, and the roast pork typically prepared "a la varita"( pig roasted over a charcoal pit). A drink of "Coquito"-- a kind of strong egg-nog which includes rum and coconut milk will top it off !! For dessert, nothing more delicious than , a nice coconut-based custard...
The family usually gets together for Dinner on Christmas Eve and continue festivities with some good music and partying. Then at Midnight many will go to Church for the Midnight Mass ( ).Presents are interchanged on Christmas morning when children look anxiously under the Christmas tree for presents brought by Santa..(Puerto Rican children are quite lucky as they will get presents in Christmas and also later in Three King's day). Christmas Day is a time to spend among the family and repeat some of the eating and partying..
Think it's all over? Not quite yet in Puerto Rico...While in the States the Holidays will be over by now, the fun still continues in Boriken!!! For the next 5 days Puerto Ricans and children in particular prepare for another festivity of Puerto Rican culture...The Three Kings' Day on the 6th of January...the Feast of the Epiphany, celebrating the visit to the Christ Lord by the Magi bringing presents from the Far East..The kids will cut some grass and place it in a small box and put it under the Christmas Tree waiting for the Kings to bring them presents --the Camels will need a lot of grass to feed after their long trip from the Orient..
plena: folklore music from Puerto Rico that is played with “panderos” or handheld drums of three different sizes, cuatro (an instrument at resembles a small guitar), maracas and güiro.
bomba: is a musical expression created in Puerto Rico at the end of the 17th century, by West Africans and their descendants who worked the colonial sugar plantations along the coast of Puerto Rico.
Our first Christmas in Puerto Rico was a lot of fun and much different from Colorado. We didn’t have all the cues of the holidays like cold weather, fresh pine trees from the mountains, and time off work. And while we don’t have the beauty of glistening white snow falling on puffing houses, the weather this time of year in the tropics is just gorgeous in a different way.
Puerto Ricans usually put up a nice Christmas Tree with all the trimmings--a custom obtained from American influence. As in most things, Puerto Ricans have adapted American customs while keeping their own in typical celebrations.
parranda: also know as “asalto” or mugging is a Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico where a group of people do a surprise visit to a house during the late night to sing typical songs and party.