Noche Buena Featured in
You won't find any snow in Puerto Rico in December, but plenty of holiday spirit in anticipation of Noche Buena or Christmas. From early December, the Old San Juan neighborhood with its beautiful 16th-century architecture gets lavishly decorated with holiday lights and nativity scenes. Aguinaldos navideños or trullas (Christmas carols) can be heard everywhere. On the eve of Noche Buena, families and friends usually gather for a festive meal and attend a mass called Misa de Gallo. After the mass, people exchange gifts and indulge in festive food and drinks.
The main drink of Puerto Rican Christmas is Coquito. This coconut-based alcoholic beverage is also called the Puerto Rican eggnog. It's made of rum, coconut milk and cream, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. If this is not sweet enough for you, there are plenty of desserts to try: flan, arroz con dulce (sweet rice), or coconut tembleque. Non-sweet treats include pasteles made with meat and green plantains, wrapped in banana leaves.
If you get lucky, you'll be invited to a Puerto Rican Christmas party called parranda. It includes local Christmas treats and Aguinaldos performed with traditional instruments: guitars, cuatros, palitas, guiros and maracas. Parrandas start at about 10 pm when a few friends gather on a porch or a patio and can last until morning with lots of people joining in.