Growing Up Dominican: Christmas Time!

Its nearly Christmas, and that means many people have their trees up and have their houses are decked out for the holidays! Everyone has their own special traditions they follow (if you have any, feel free to comment below and share them! I’d love to hear all about them!) at this time of year, we are no different! My family specifically had a few “normal” ones too, so I’ll list those along with the usual Dominican traditions 😀

  •  The house was ALWAYS thoroughly cleaned (I mean top to bottom) around this time of year! Mostly in preparation for all of the incoming guests, you may be expecting!
  • This deserves its own bullet: General fact: Cleanliness is next to godliness. Seriously. But its especially important when the holidays roll around because other people will be in your home! You’ll be JUDGED. Okay, not really, but that’s what the parents want us to think. Watch this to get an idea of how intense it could get: (No, this person is not Dominican, but they sure are acting like it!!) Example of Dominican style cleaning
  • Along with cleaning the house, decorating for the season is important too. Lights, cute little wooden (or really any material)/ painted trees around the house, ugly home-made children’s decor (So I made an elf out of a Quaker oats can when I was little…Darn thing sits next to the Christmas tree every year and causes me nightmares.) candles, and anything cinnamon smelling. (Wait..that last bit is just my dad…would recommend though!!)
  • Coquito, Coquito, COQUITO!!!!! It’s really important that you realize how delish this drink is. It’s there for you every major holiday too! YUM. (I’ll put the recipe at the bottom of the post)
  • Shooting off fireworks in the streets is a normal occurrence in the DR. Unfortunately, the US is no fun and has banned fireworks in loads of places. BOO.
  • Christmas (Eve usually) dinner is VERY important. You dress nice, family comes, the table is heaped with enough fantastic food to feed an army…you get the idea.
  • In the days leading up to Christmas, we (I think this may have been my family specifically) had advent calendars with dulces or sweets in them for each day!
  • I should also mention that the DR is primarily Roman Catholic, so La Misa del Gall or Midnight Mass is a typical family outing!
  • Around Christmas, its normal to spend time with family, but if you’re blessed to be apart of a Dominican family, there is NO excuse. Christmas= Intense amounts of family time. Uninterrupted family time at that. (Not saying its a bad thing, but most people I don’t think get that family time in this culture is SUPER important)
  • The good news is, during this intense family time, there are games, LOTS of dancing and music, and food. Always food.
  • My dad always read the Christmas Story from the bible every Christmas morning before we opened presents!
  • We ALWAYS open one present on Christmas Eve before going to bed. However, I must confess that I always knew they would be PJ’s…(Thanks, mom 😛 )

Dominican households around the holidays are lively ones, which is something I love and cherish! The fact that I get to come home to a family who just embraces their child-like side, and celebrates the birth of Christ is so great! There is never a dull moment. I’m pretty excited that this is my FIRST year being a married woman! So, no more sleepovers with my sister (where we secretly stayed up trying to guess what we had gotten) or tip-toeing down the creaky steps to sneak a peek at all the presents before we violently woke our parents up, I am really going to miss it…

But I am looking forward to carrying on traditions in my little family! Will totally not be forgetting the one present on Christmas Eve! (Except no PJ’s) After this Christmas, I’ll have to post an update if we come up with our own traditions or use the ones I listed above or any combination of those 😀

Coquito Recipe

PS: Watch this. LeJuan is my spirit animal. Enjoy ❤

Feliz Navidad friends! I hope your holidays are blessed and safe!

Tori xo


Author: Tori Wilson

I’m 26 years old, I’m half Dominican, and I’m from Paterson, New Jersey. I however currently call Charlottesville, Virginia my home! I have a cat named Fiyero, a dog named Watson, and I am married to my wonderful husband, Davey. I LOVE wine, food, friends and the color periwinkle.

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