Category Archives: Traditions

New Year – Año Nuevo

New Years/ Año Nuevo

Celebrating the New Year / Año Nuevo is a big night for all. Some people get all dressed up and go out to a big party with Champagne and all the glitz and glitter that bring in the new year is known for. Others just go out to their local Colmado (corner store and party the night away with the neighbors. Of course, there are those that prefer to just stay home and bring in the new year quietly and peacefully.

Here are some of the old-time traditions for bringing in the Nuevo Año in Dominican Republic.

*One should clear out the old and start the new year fresh and clean. The house needs to be scrubbed from top to bottom All drawers need to be cleaned out. All this cleaning brings good luck.

*Different colors mean different things. Wear the color that brings the wish for the coming year you want to come true. Green/ Verde helps out with the money situation, Red/ Rojo brings a bright future, Yellow/ Amarillo makes work better, White/ Blanco is for good health.

House painting on Calle Duarte

*You may notice that many of the homes get a new coat of paint for the holidays. This is part of the cleaning everything and making way for the new.

*When the clock strikes 12 make sure the doors and windows are open wide so the last years spirit can get out freely and the new one can enter.

A broom sitting outside on New Years Eve.

*At the end of the year you have to throw out your old brooms. Any broom you happen to have in the home needs to be placed in a corner of the house. Remember to leave the new broom outside overnight before bringing it into the house. I’m not sure why just to be safe you best do it.

*Never sweep the house on New Year’s Day. You may end up sweeping your luck away with the dirt.

*The traditional Christmas dinner is also served on New Years.

*Make sure to have 12 grapes/ uvos per person. For each toll of the clock or each month of the year you need to eat a grape and make a wish for the coming year.

*If you are a Catholic you need to have a priest come and bless the house or at least give it a good dousing of holy water.

A typical Jumera with carbon inside to cleanse the air to bring in the new year.

*You need to burn some incense to purifying the home on the eve of the New Year. This tradition goes way back to the native Taino Indians that lived on the island. Many people use a “Jumera”. The most typical is made from a can with carbon/ charcoal inside. It comes with a small pouch of scent specifically for good luck and chasing away the bad spirits and some sticks for lighting.

Dominican Christmas Words

Dominican Christmas Words

Some important Christmas/ Navidad words in Spanish and their English translations.

Christmas | Songs | Decorations | Traditional Foods | Town and Neighborhood Traditions | Children – Three Kings Day | El Burrito de Belén song and lyrics | Christmas Words | Picture Collection – Christmas in Colonial Zone and Dominican Republic

árbol de navidad / Christmas Tree on Calle el Conde

*el acebo – holly
*árbol de navidad – Christmas tree
*bambalinas – ornaments
*bastón de dulce – candy cane
*la cabalgata – On 6th January there is a Christmas parade, the
principal characters are the “magi kings” who drive around
the city on *a float and shower the children and people with
sweets and other presents.
*campana – bell
*cascabel – sleigh bell
*duende – elf
*dulce – a piece of candy
*el espíritu navideño – the Christmas spirit
*el espumillón – tinsel
*¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo! – Merry Christmas and a
Prosperous New Year!
*galleta – cookie

*hombre de nieve – snow man
*luces – Christmas Tree lights
*muérdago – mistletoe
*navidad – Christmas
*nieve – snow
*noche buena – Christmas eve
*ornamento – decorations
*oye – hear
*Papá Noel – Father Christmas
*polo norte – north pole
*pone – hang

*prende – light an object
*un ramo de Navidad – a Christmas wreath
*reno – reindeer
*los Reyes Magos – the Three Kings, the Three
Wise Men
*trineo – sleigh
*un villancico – Christmas carol
*vela – candle
*vuela – flies

Christmas Town Traditions

Traditions in Different Towns and Barrios in the Dominican Republic

Many of the towns throughout the Dominican Republic have their own special traditions for Navidad.

Christmas | Songs | Decorations | Traditional Foods | Town and Neighborhood Traditions | Children – Three Kings Day | El Burrito de Belén song and lyrics | Christmas Words | Picture Collection – Christmas in Colonial Zone and Dominican Republic

Throughout the Dominican Republic you will see Navidad decorations. Many of the streets are adorned with lights, trees and other unique items.

Many neighborhoods make their own decorations


Most of the street decorations in the neighborhoods are purchased by the Junta de Vecinos (these are the locally elected governments, that are elected, voted on by the neighborhood, to take care of representing them when there is a problem and setting up events). The few months before December you may see some bake sales and people selling crafts and other items. The money collected goes for the purchase of the neighborhood decorations and sometimes for a band or entertainment for the neighborhood and anyone that happens to join in.

Decorations by the Junto de Vecinos San Lazaro about recycling

Colonial Zone

In Colonial Zone there are many different parties throughout the holiday season. Some times entire roads are closed for a big band to set up and play so everyone can dance and enjoy throughout the night. Other times the neighbors get together in their local park and share food and drink.

Some Perico Ripiao being played under some Christmas decorations

The old neighbors and families usually come back to their neighborhood to meet and greet old friends. To see some videos I took of one of the parties and park picture go to my blog (opens in new window).


La Vega

The town of La Vega celebrates la Verbena de Navidad. In this celebration the entire town parades through the street celebrating and enjoying. Lines of people hold hands, walking behind the town’s band of musicians. The tempo of the parade picks up and you have to run to keep up with the multitude of humans. As the parade nears its finish people are running, still holding their hands. You best keep up with the crowd or you tumble to the ground. Many lose shoes and other items, but it is a good time and a fun tradition


I will add more as I learn about them…

Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Navidad! Prospero año y felicidad!
Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad!
Feliz Navidad! Prospero año y felicidad!

Continue…Christmas Words.