Art and Culture

Dominican Traditions #5: Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Dinner

This post is also available in: Spanish

The Christmas Eve dinner or “la cena del 24” is probably the favorite and most special day in the month of December for all Dominicans. Why? Because you don’t only get to spend time with your love ones, but the best part of all… the FOOD!

There is no doubt that Dominicans know how to cook the best and most delicious dishes for this traditional dinner. All Dominicans spend hours cooking and preparing everything for this special night when the whole family and friends get together to eat, drink, laugh and best of all to celebrate this important holiday, which commemorates the birth of Jesus.

Christmas DinnerThe homemade dishes served vary depending on the region, but the most important and popular are:

  • Empanadas filled with chicken or beef
  • Pasteles en hoja”: mashed yuca or plantain stuffed with meat and wrapped in a banana leaf
  • “Russian Salad”: contains potatoes, carrots, tayota, petit pois, onion, vinegar and mayonnaise.
  • La Telera”: a type of bread which is mostly eaten at Christmas
  • Roasted Pork
  • Grapes, apple, and Christmas sweets!

Sounds yummy right?! Well, that’s just a part of it, others go for dishes like “Pastelon” that contains, chicken, cheese, sauces and either “platanos maduros” (sweet plantains) or mashed potatoes. The dinner can also include the famous Italian lasagna (lasaña), which is a very common addition, even though is not a typical Dominican dish.

After the delicious dinner everyone sits down to spend time together, share jokes and stories. The men might play Dominoes, while the ladies chat and catch up with the latest gossip!

Christmas Eve is a big family reunion. Many Dominicans, sometimes called “Dominican Yorks” come home from New York, which is where a huge community of Dominicans reside. Dominicans love their mothers or aunts cooking so they must return home to enjoy the feast that is prepared. They come loaded with presents and ready to enjoy this Christmas Eve Dinner!

This is the fifth article in our series “Dominican holiday traditions”, click on the links below to read article #1, #2 and #3

Dominican Traditions #1: Angelitos

Dominican Traditions #2: Aguinaldos

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