The holidays are just around the corner and traditions are waiting to be celebrated around the world. Holiday traditions always tell us so much about the people who celebrate them and the values they hold, which is why we love to hear about them! Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to spend the holidays in a tropical paradise? This month, we’re taking a deep dive into some of the most unique and fun Caribbean holiday traditions and asking for you to share your holiday traditions (in the Caribbean or at home) with us for a chance to win a three night trip for two to Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun!
Annual Holiday Events in the Caribbean
Dia de los Reyes in Puerto Rico
Dia de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day, is one of Puerto Rico’s largest and most celebrated holidays of the season. The long-held Latin American tradition celebrates the gospel account regarding the Three Kings visiting baby Jesus, each with unique gifts to offer. Every evening following December 25, until the holiday on January 6, is celebrated with family, friends, coquito, live music and tons of holiday spirit! The celebratory festival has been held in the small town of Juana Díaz, just outside of Ponce, every year since 1884–so, it’s kind of a big deal!
Junkanoo Festival in Bahamas
The Junkanoo Festival in Nassau, Bahamas is a unique and colorful experience that everyone should join in on! The annual festival takes place on December 26 (Boxing Day) and New Year’s Day. During these celebrations, locals dress up in masks and traditional, colorful costumes and parade through the streets. Although we don’t know for sure, many believe this tradition to be from times of slavery on the island when slaves were given three days off for the holidays to celebrate with singing and dancing.
Grand Market in Jamaica
Christmas Eve is one of the most exciting days of the year in Jamaica. Every year, Jamaica’s Grand Market is an all day event where local shops and vendors stay open for last-minute holiday shopping and themed festivities. This day calls for families’ best holiday attire, candy and sweets for the kids and a variety of delicious, authentic street food–think all things jerk chicken, roasted peanuts and Jamaicans’ favorite holiday cocktail, Sorrel.
Las Posadas in Mexico
One of Mexico’s most important celebrations of the year is a nine-night event, from December 16-24. Las Posadas honors Mary and Joseph’s journey for refuge from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and Mary’s birth to baby Jesus. Every evening of the festival includes children dressed as angels or shepherds, a procession through the town reciting scriptures and singing Christmas carols on people’s doorsteps. There’s also nightly mass services, lots of sweets for the kids, piñatas and other gifts!
The December Festivals in St. Lucia
December is an exciting and cultural month for Saint Lucians. Every year, the island hosts a series of traditional and historic festivals showcasing local creativity with the use of light, which symbolizes rebirth. These celebrations kick off in the days leading up to December 13–Saint Lucy’s (the patron saint of light) Day– by decorating the outside of their houses with homemade lanterns. Following, is an annual contest for the best homemade lantern, a parade to celebrate and then a sending off of the lanterns into the bay with a firework display overhead.
Music and dancing have always played a huge role in Puerto Rican culture. In the days leading up until Navidad, groups of friends come together (known as parrandas or trullas navideñas) and go door-to-door singing songs, usually accompanied by guitar playing and maracas. After singing, they’re invited inside for a celebration with lots of traditional food and coquito (think, spiked eggnog sans egg). Other traditions often include large cookouts, live music and a pig roast in the mountains to pair perfectly with the stunning views and cooler weather.
The holidays are some of the best days in the Dominican Republic! Not only are you surrounded by pristine beaches and other natural beauties, but the streets are decorated with beautiful flores de pascua (poisettias) and the handmade, wooden Christmas trees, angels and other biblical animals called charamicos. On December 24th, La Noche Buena, families and friends get together for their annual Christmas feast with traditional Dominican cuisine, cocktails, merengue and other holiday festivities to celebrate the countdown to Christmas Day. Continuing the holiday traditions, like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic also celebrates and follows the Latin American traditions of Dia de los Reyes.
When it comes to the holidays, Jamaicans love to make them last! Christmas Day usually begins bright and early, around 6 a.m., for a church service and then heading off to the island’s Grand Market–an island-wide street fair that’s fun for everyone! Local vendors at the market typically sell a variety of toys, handmade crafts, sweets and so much more. For dinner, a Christmas feast traditionally includes roast chicken, rice, gungo (pigeon) peas and sorrel to drink–a tart, dried hibiscus-based cocktail made with fresh ginger, nutmeg, white rum, cinnamon, orange and lime juice. Additionally, similarly to other Caribbean islands, Jamaicans also host an annual Junkanoo festival that dates back to times of slavery.
Warm, tropical weather never stops Mexicans from getting in the holiday spirit. There’s lots of holiday shopping, tree decorating, homemade ornaments, piñatas and delicious seasonal cuisine. A crafty favorite is when families carve unique shapes and designs into brown paper bags to make lanterns–called farolitos–that are placed along sidewalks, windowsills and rooftops with candles inside to illuminate the community’s holiday spirit. By December 16, Las Posadas celebrations are in full effect and continue throughout the country until Noche Buena, December 24. A traditional Mexican Christmas feast includes oxtail soup with beans and hot chili, roasted turkey, tamales and fruit salad.
In the comments, tell us your favorite holiday tradition(s) for a chance to win a three-night trip for two, to Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun!
In the midst of learning about all of these fun Caribbean holiday traditions, we want to know some of yours! What are some of your favorite holiday traditions? Are you ready to start a new tradition in the Caribbean? Comment below and tell us all about your favorite holiday tradition for a chance to win a trip to the fantastic Secrets Capri Riviera Cancun! See terms and conditions.