(Contributed by Michi)
My family is originally from Cuba and like many other people from Latin American countries, we are used to celebrating a holiday during the winter known as Nochebuena. “Noche Buena” literally translates into ‘Good Night’ in Spanish and is celebrated on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24th), it’s considered to be the main winter holiday for most Latinos.
Since many Latin American cultures have strong ties to Catholicism, it’s no surprise that this holiday has religious roots. The original intention of Nochebuena was to celebrate the night the baby Jesus was born. While many still regard Nochebuena as a deeply spiritual day, many Latinos think of it more as a day to share joy, food and gifts with family and to express gratitude and love to others.
Each family will celebrate Nochebuena differently, depending on their country of origin and personal traditions. For example, more religious people will attend a special midnight mass on the day known as “Misa del Gallo.” In the Caribbean, it’s common to eat pork on Nochebuena, while Peruvians will dine on turkey and Nicaraguans will customarily eat stuffed chicken. Some families will set off fireworks to honor the event, while others might play dominos or listen to Latin music and dance the night away!
Unfortunately I’ll be missing my family’s Nochebuena this year, but I will definitely be thinking about my family and keeping them close to my heart this Christmas Eve. I hope that you all have an excellent Christmas and Christmas Eve – and that you celebrate the new year with health and happiness!