The Dominican Republic has a baffling variety of festivals. There are festivals almost every day of the year. The residents just can’t wait to light up everything and celebrate something together.
Dominicans are very festive, and they always find a reason to celebrate. Each community has its own festivals; some of them are religious while some are traditional.
Exceptional Christmas Celebration
Traditional festivals aside, the Dominicans celebrate Christmas in a unique way. The common idea of Christmas in our head is an image that makes us think about frozen temperatures, lathered landscapes, and families laughing together in front of a warm home’s fireplace. The Dominican Christmas is a blend of both marvelous traditions and festive spirits. Moreover, the theme is completely different from everywhere as it is not celebrated in cold weather. Let’s discover more together-
On Christmas, the Dominicans do not decorate their home only, they decorate their streets also. They adorn the roads with hundreds of wooden hand-crafted Christmas trees, displaying animals, stars, and reindeers. One of the main attractions of the decoration is white “charamico” trees, which basically is a creative way of having white trees surrounded by “snow”. They believe that will protect them from snow.
Dominican Christmas Dinner
Popular items of traditional Dominican Christmas dinner include a mix of rice and gungo peas with macedoine carrots and potatoes. They like to have roasted chicken and pork with rice. Another popular dish served with rice is pastel en hoja. The dish is made with tropical root vegetables cooked in plantain or banana leaves. Dominicans also like to have fresh salads in their Christmas dinner.
For dessert, they prefer to eat marshmallows, jellies, caramels, and pastries filled with figs. Other favorites are Danish butter biscuits and pudim navideno, which is a version of the European Christmas Pudding.
Gift Exchanging Tradition or “Angelitos”
Dominicans also like to exchange small presents with their friends, neighbors, and work colleagues on Christmas Eve. Preparation for “Angelitos” starts two weeks before the actual celebration. At first, they write all the names of the people on small papers they want to exchange gifts with. Then they put the names together in a basket. After that, every participant gets a chance to pick a token and sequentially become their ‘little angel’ nominated for ‘secretly’ buying them a gift!
Significant Festivals and Holidays:
Dominicans celebrate different carnivals almost every month of the year. Most of the festivals are celebrated with various types of drinks along with traditional foods and contests. The carnivals are so vibrant and entertaining. However, these festivals are commonly crowded with both local people and visitors. So, women travelers should be aware of unwanted sexual advances, and every visitor should be careful about pocket pickers.
Santo Cristo de Bayaguana and Guloya Festival
Their series of festivals starts on the very first day of the year. Santo Cristo de Bayaguana is mainly a long rally of local bulls that are taken to the church of Bayaguana. Then some of the bulls are given to a local priest as a sign of thanksgiving and devotion.
Another festival is celebrated on January 1 along with Santo Cristo de Bayaguana, known as Guloya Festival. This is also a rally through the streets of San Pedro’s Miramar barrio.
Three Kings’ Day, Virgen de Altagracia, and Duarte Day
Three Kings’ Day is considered one of the major gift-giving festivals of the Dominican year. They celebrate the day between January 5th to January 6th.
The most important religious day on the Dominican calendar is January 21. The name of the festival is Virgen de Altagracia. This is a prayer-of-intercession day to the country’s patron, and a huge number of people gather in Higüey to celebrate the day together.
The Dominicans celebrate another festival to pay homage to the Father of the nation. They spend the day with public fiestas in all major cities, while the main celebration is observed in Santiago and La Vega. This day is celebrated on 26th January.
Virgen de Candelaria and Independence Day
Virgen de Candelaria is celebrated on 2nd February, which is a religious procession in the barrio San Carlos. This day is celebrated to honor the virgin. Then on 27th February, Dominicans celebrate their Independence Day. On this day, they celebrate their freedom from Haiti and the height of the Dominican Carnival.
March to April
De Marzo and Semana Santa
To pay homage to the battle fighters, the Dominicans celebrate another independence day on 19th March every year; it is known as de Marzo. Semana Santa is the holy week celebrated by the local people. This week is celebrated from late March to mid-April. The native people wear demon masks and admonish passers-by with straps.
Santa Cruz, San Felipe, and Espíritu Santo
A famous nine-night celebration in El Seibo is Santa Cruz, which is celebrated from 2nd May to 3rd May. The celebration starts with a cattle rally to the sixteenth-century church on the last day and a unique spring festival in Azua and Baní. Another surprising fact about the festival is that each of the crosses of the locality is tucked up with bright-colored paper.
San Felipe is celebrated on the 3rd of May. This is a long traditional festival on Puerto Plata’s Malecón along with numerous types of live music. Espíritu Santo is also celebrated on the same day to honor the holy spirits.
They also celebrate many other festivals in the other months Some of them are San Antonio, San Juan Bautista, Festival of the Bulls, Restoration Day, Merengue Festival, San Rafael, Todo Los Santos, Fiesta patronal for the city of Samaná, etc. Most of the festivals are celebrated with folk, merengue, and jazz music. They also arrange food fairs, dance performances, and costumed parades at those festivals.
One of the most popular celebrations among all is the Festival of the Bulls, which is celebrated at the end of the year, and the celebration continues till January 1. The day is celebrated with traditional “cattle songs” that are sung to the bulls to bless them.