It’s December already and the Christmas season has officially started. It’s usually associated with cold, snow, rain, warm coats, boots, chimneys and Santa Claus. But what about Christmas in a Caribbean country? How do people here create a Christmas spirit without all these conventional attributes? The truth is that Dominicans like this festive season and have a series of their own Christmas preparation traditions. They may seem odd and unusual but they add magic to the air and characterize the Dominican Christmas. Here we will mention 10 signs by which you can know for sure that Christmas is coming in the Dominican Republic.
Probably the first who makes the call is always big supermarkets and furniture stores. Just overnight they transform completely by putting big Christmas trees, decorations, lights and by stocking their shelves with numerous Christmas goods. The effect is especially striking because it usually happens in October when no one is really thinking much of the coming in 2 months holidays. But it serves as a call to action and sort of a start of the Christmas preparation season.
2. Street Christmas Fruit Markets
Following the supermarkets, street vendors start installing stalls to sell Christmas fruits. These markets are a little bit different from usual fruit markets and colmados. First of all, they sell only specific fruits associated with Christmas such as red grapes, red and green apples, nuts (mainly almonds and hazelnuts), dried fruits and most importantly gumdrops. Secondly, they appear in places with a higher traffic, usually right next to public transport stations. Normally there is one market per small town or block and they disappear after the New Year. Thirdly, they are open 24 hours so even at night you can stop by a decorated and illuminated Christmas fruit market to get your deal. If you can spot a similar fruit market, then the Dominican Christmas preparations are at their height.
3. Town Decorations and Markets.
In the recent few years decorating the streets, main squares and parks of Dominican towns has become an integral part of the Christmas preparation. Different towns even compete between each other for the most beautiful and original light installations. For example in Santo Domingo, Iberoamerican Park transforms into Town of Lights (Ciudad de las Luces) with numerous light performances and biblical scenes representations. As for the Dream City area, Puerto Plata’s City Hall does a fantastic job decorating the Central Park (Parque Central). As you may guess, these installations become a major attraction during the Christmas season. You will find the main squares and parks full of Dominican families with children taking pictures, enjoying popcorn and having a great time.
Furthermore, a relatively new feature of the Christmas preparation in the Dominican Republic is Christmas markets. Local people has recently started adapting this popular European tradition. Christmas fairs or bazaars are usually organized at main town squares and bring local artisans and artists together. It’s a great opportunity to buy Christmas gifts, take pictures with Santa Claus and support local talents. This year Sosua will host its first Christmas market where Dream City will be the main sponsor. Follow our Facebook account for more details.
As you understand, there is no snow in the Dominican Republic. However, Dominicans also want to experience Christmas snowy and frosty. So they have invented their own recreation of a snowy Christmas tree. Charamicos are wooden hand-crafted trees, stars, reindeer and angels made from dry tree branches. They have become an important Christmas symbol in the Dominican Republic. Starting from mid-November, you can find street markets where those charamicos are displayed for sale. You can buy an already finished one or order one by your individual measures and preferences.
5. Christmas Corporate Parties
First of all, it should be noted that the Labor Law is very strong in the Dominican Republic. The law protects the employee and their rights while companies can face serious penalties for any minor infraction. Having said that, Christmas corporate parties constitute a big bright part of the Dominican holiday preparation season. Companies organize big parties for their employees which are usually accompanied with raffles, rewards, Christmas salary (salario de Navidad) and Christmas baskets (canasta de Navidad). So don’t get surprised if you find your favorite restaurant closed for corporate events in December. Also get ready to resist the temptation to buy one of numerous nicely wrapped Christmas baskets every time you go to a supermarket in December.
Since we touched the Dominican corporate culture, it’s crucial to mention the popular Christmas game Angelitos also known as Secret Santa. Actually the game is played not only between colleagues but also between family members and friends. It usually starts with the first week of December. Each participant gets the name of one person whom he sends gifts each week. The name is disclosed only at the last gift exchange. Normally the person in charge of Angelito also establishes a price range and theme for gifts. The whole game becomes a sort of fun competition for more creative and original gift ideas.
The Christmas season also means a time to give. In December not only non-profit and charity organizations but also individuals and business entities join forces to help the most needed. It’s common to witness a group of volunteers organize Christmas parties for children in the most underprivileged neighborhoods. Independently of their situation, all kids have the right to be happy, receive gifts from Santa Claus and have a Santa photo session. One of Dream City’s community projects, Noche de Cine Gratis actively supports similar initiatives. You can find pictures from these events at local schools, churches, hospitals and other institutions on our Facebook page. Moreover, many families donate clothes, furniture, domestic appliances and other things to low-income households.
Yes, that may seem funny to you but even in the land of endless summer weather does change during the year. The Dominican Christmas season is also characterized by chilly winds, cooler nights, shorter daylight time and more rains. Thus in December you may easily do without an AC at night. Moreover, if you want to make pictures of an amazing sunset, you’d better have your camera ready by 5.30 PM. Whereas in summer time you have until 7.30 PM to set everything up for an ideal photo shoot.
9. Flores de Pascua
Flores de Pascua, Christmas flowers or Poinsettia represent another symbol of the Dominican Christmas season. It’s common to give them away to friends and family as a special gift during the Christmas preparation period. According to the popular belief, the form of the leaves represents the Star of Bethlehem. As you know, it guided the wise men from the East on their trip to Jerusalem to newly born Baby Jesus. Moreover, the flower’s red color is associated with the Blood of Christ shed for our salvation. Finally, the green color means life and hope. As the flowers are very delicate, especially for a tropical climate, Dominicans often opt for equally attractive artificial substitutes.
Christmas is the biggest and most important holiday in the predominantly Christian Dominican Republic. That’s why the Christmas preparation also involves mass events during the whole month of December. It’s time with the highest frequency of concerts. Every weekend there is a performance by a famous local or international artist so it becomes difficult to choose which one to assist. For instance this year December started with the huge show of Juan Luis Guerra and Vicente Garcia. The concerts of Romeo Santos, Wason Brazoban, Miriam Cruz, Anthony Santos, Nicky Jam and Afrojack, Puerto Plata Megafieston are coming. The biggest international event will be Electric Paradise in Cap Cana with the participation of such stars as Carbi B, J Balvin, Wiz Khalifa, Ozuna and Major Lazer. The Dominican Republic in December becomes a country with the highest concentration of international talents per square foot.