Art and Culture

5 Dominican phrases you only hear during the holidays

Dominican Christmas, Altos de Chavon

This post is also available in: Spanish

Dominican Christmas, Altos de ChavonJust as we have created a number of words to communicate and express realities that are part of our culture and daily life, we also have seasonal phrases that are part of our popular slang. And ’tis the season, so we decided to share some of these popular Dominican phrases with you!

1. “Tamo’ en Bebiembre” (We’re in Bebiembre)

This is a union of the words “beber o bebiendo” (drinking) and “diciembre” (December). The meaning is simple… December or rather “bebiembre” is a month for drinking!

2. “La vieja Belén viene en camino” (“Vieja Belén” is on her way)

This one is not so easy to explain!

The “Vieja Belén” is a character from Dominican folklore, a Dominianized version of “Befana”, an Italian witch who does good deeds for the poor.

Meanwhile the phrase “la vieja Belén viene en camino” is used on or after 3 Kings Day (when children in the Dominican Republic traditionally receive gifts), to give hope to children who did not get gifts. This basically gives parents an extra week to be able to get some money to buy the gifts.

3. “Volvió Juanita” (Juanita is back)

This phrase refers to the absent Dominicans, meaning Dominicans living abroad. You are most likely to hear this phrase when they come to the country to spend their Christmas vacation with their families, or are coming back for good. It comes from a very popular merengue entitled “Volvió Juanita” by Milly Quezada, a well known Dominican singer. Without any doubt, this phrase and song are characteristic elements of the Christmas season.

4. “Dame mi Navidad” (mi noche buena o mi Reye’), (Give me my Christmas, my New Year’s Eve or my Three Kings)

This basically means, “give me my gift”. A Christmas present, a tip or donation – using the holidays as an excuse.

5. “Ya se siente la brisita navideña” (You can feel the Christmas breeze now)

Dominicans say this when we feel the temperature has dropped, the hot weather that characterizes the Dominican Republic has changed and been replaced by a cool breeze usually at dawn and dusk. This happens from December to early February.

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