In Puerto Rico, the holiday season is more than just the ‘12 days of Christmas’, kicking off at Thanksgiving and lasting right up until mid-January.
In many parts of the world, Christmas Day is the highlight of the festive calendar. However, in Puerto Rico the main event is the feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day.
Three Kings Day
One of the most special days in the Christian calendar, Three Kings Day, celebrates the visit of the three kings to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem – with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Every 6th January, Puerto Rican kids receive presents. Not from Santa Claus but from Los Reyes (The Kings).
The night before, kids even leave out snacks for the Three Kings and a box of grass for their camels (sound familiar?) It’s also a big day for family gatherings, parades and festivals – Old San Juan throws one of the largest festivals each year in Luis Muñoz Marín Park with live music, food, drink and free gifts for kids.
If you’re planning to visit Puerto Rico during the holidays, it’s likely that you’ll come across some aguinaldos, which is basically a Spanish form of Christmas carols. Typically, aguinaldos are performed as part of the festivities known as parrandas.
Think carol singing, only late at night with an alcohol-infused party atmosphere and an element of surprise thrown in. A group of revelers get together around 10pm to begin their first “assalto”, which translates literally as assault! They quietly congregate outside the victim’s house before playing traditional music loudly and singing aguinaldos, until their friend is woken up. At this point, he or she joins the party, bringing whatever food or drink they have, before continuing with them to the next house – and the process repeats until dawn!
For local information about celebrations during the Christmas & New Year holiday season, contact our hotel concierge.