Iglesia de San Miguel is named after the mighty archangel Saint Michael. The church is a small eighteenth-century temple that evolved from a sixteenth-century chapel.
Iglesia de San Miguel
The first mention of this church was in 1650. It was first constructed entirely of straw and in 1740 the temple was built with solid materials by order the Royal Treasurer of the Colony, Don Miguel de Pasamonte. At this time it was one of the richest chapels in the city.
Destroyed By Earthquake
The building was almost entirely destroyed in the big earthquake in 1751, as were many of the buildings in Colonial Zone. The Iglesia was entirely rebuilt in 1765 in a bad attempt at Baroque style. It was used as a parish during the construction boom of this era.
Home of Black Brotherhoods
The church ended up being located in “the black section” of town. In 1784 the building was to be a hospital for slaves. The decree was never followed and it never happened. Then, in 1796, it was decreed that San Miguel be called the Código Negro Carolino, the home of all the black brotherhoods. These African slaves and blacks who lived in this sector chose the warrior figure because they saw in the Archangel San Miguel a figure that would defend them from the white demons.
Arcángel San Miguel
With his sword held high, the image of Arcángel San Miguel located in the front of the church is impressive. This wood carving is thought to be from the late seventeenth century and belonged to the old hermitage. Archangel Saint Michael is the Angel who defends the people against Satan and is the prince of all the heavenly armies. The leader of God’s chosen army, he is the guardian angel and the protector of the Catholic Church.
Since Christmas is such a grand and important holiday here in the Dominican Republic it deserves a page all its own. It is such a large celebration that it starts in October and ends in January. With its exhilarating parties, spectacular fireworks, relaxing family time and fantastic food, there is just too much good information for a small section.
Christmas in Dominican Republic lasts for about 3 months, more or less. It is a time to get together with friends and family and enjoy. Although here everyone seems to have a great time always, Christmas is even more of a delight. The airlines are booked solid with people returning to their roots to celebrate in the place they call home. There is such an excitement felt in the streets throughout the country. The passion culminates with the fireworks that seem to happen more often the closer the holiday gets.
Trying to do business during this time is not easy, peoples minds are not on accomplishing anything. All that seems to be on the mind is having fun and relishing the company of others.
Indulging ones self with all the traditional foods that one does not get throughout the year is much anticipated. The aromas of food whiffs out into the streets from kitchens where people are preparing their specialties. There are parties, both private and community gatherings everywhere. The festive spirit is in abundance. On the faces of people, the lights and decorations, the festive feelings, the fireworks and the food.
Fuegos artificiales/ Fireworks are a momentous tradition here in Dominican Republic. Children and adults love shooting off cohetes y petardos/ rockets and firecrackers of all types. Hospitals are especially busy mending burnt and mangled fingers of people that get a bit carried away with the fireworks. There are stands all over the country selling these festive and dangerous toys to light the sky or to make a big bang. In this way the season is celebrated with a bang!
Most businesses will close around 6 PM on Christmas Eve and some will not open at all on this day. This gives families time to get together for the big celebration of food and drink. In most tourist areas businesses are open, but I wouldn’t count on it. It’s best to have what you need before this day just to be on the safe side.
The main celebration happens on Noche Buena/ Christmas Eve (December 24th). This is when the big family dinners are held. People really do some substantial celebrating. Most people return to their home towns in order to enjoy the holiday with family and friends. Not to mention, most Dominicans love their mothers or aunts cooking so the must return home to enjoy the feast that is prepared. This family gathering is the center of the holiday festivity. December 25th, Christmas Day, is the day to recuperate.
As a traditional token of Christmas cheer, most employees receive an extra months pay in December, and so have a little extra cash on hand. This is called Double Sueldo, a Christmas bonus Dominican style. It is about the same as a months pay and helps to make Christmas holidays a more lighthearted time.
La Misa del Gall
Religious people usually go to church for the Christmas Eve service. This service called La Misa del Gall. It is a Midnight Mass traditional type service. There is also a mass on Christmas Day usually held at 12 noon for those who didn’t make it to the Midnight mass or for those that like to go to both. This way one can get a little rest in between.
If you are in Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic during the holidays try and make it to the service in the First Church in the Americas, Cathedral de Santa Maria in Colonial Zone. This is service is one of the largest and most elaborate in the whole country. Make sure to get there very early or you will be observing from the outside, which is fine also.
A tradition for gift exchange is called Un Angelito/ A Little Angel. All the social classes practice this. All the names of the participants are placed in a sack. Then a name is selected from the bunch. The person whose name you chose is your Angelito. Every week during the Christmas holiday you are to give that person, whose name you chose, a gift. The identity of your Angelito is to be kept secret until the last day of the gift exchange where you must divulge yourself.
Fiestas Patronales de la República Dominicana / Celebrations of the Patron Saints of Dominican Republic
Patronales/ Patron Saints. Every town and village in Dominican Republic has its own patron saint. Each town has a celebration for its saint. These celebrations usually cover an entire weekend or more with a party, music and just getting together of the inhabitants of the town in the local park or gathering area. It is a time of sharing with the neighbors and another excuse for having a party. Not that Dominicans need an excuse to have a party or a good time.
Here is a list of Patron Saints and different celebrations and what town celebrates that saint. The dates are a general reference and can change year to year depending on the dates the government sets. Try to visit a town during their celebrations. You will be so happy you did, even if you are not Catholic.
Enero / Janurary
1. Santo Cristo de los Milagros of Bayaguana – ofrenda de los toros/ The Offering of the bulls (More information about this tradition go to our page on Town Traditions)
21. Nuestra Señora de La Altagracia o Virgen de la Altagracia. Celebrated in San José de Ocoa, Monte Plata, Villa Altagracia, Paraiso y los bajos de Haina. More information on Altagracia
Febrero / February
2 Virgen de la Candelaria patron saint of San Carlos, in Santo Domingo and Sabana Grande de Boyá.
11 Nuestra Señora de Lourdes patron saint of Peralta in Azua
16 San Elías Barón del Cementerio/ The Barron of the Cemetery.
Marzo / March
3 y 4 San Benito de Palermo celebrated in Guayabal, a providence of Azua
4 y 5 Procesión Romana-Higüey a procession to the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia in Higüey,starting at the Obelisco in La Romana
8 Miércoles de Ceniza/ Ash Wednesday
17 Damballah is symbolized by un arco iris/ Rainbow
19 San José this saint is celebrated in the towns of Restauración in Dajabón, Río Grande in Puerto Plata, Villa Vásquez in Prov. Montecristi, San José de las Matas in Prov. Dajabón, Yamasá in Prov. Monte Plata, El Valle in Sabana de la Mar. In Azua this patron saint is celebrated with carnival like festivities.
Abril / April
8 Amancia Pérez patron saint of Pueblo Arriba, Baní. This is the death of this saint who was the keeper of the San Juan Bautista en la Cofradía/ Saint John the Baptist in the Brotherhood
14 y 15 La Dolorita patron saint of Los Morenos, Villa Mella. She is a saint who bestows miracles and helps the people. It is celebrated by hundresd with salves, atabales, rezos y cantos/dance, prayers and song.(to learn more about salves, atables and afro dominican music)
Mayo / May
1 San José Obrero celebrated in Villa Jaragua in Prov. Bahoruco and Ensanche Ozama in Santo Domingo
3 San Felipe Apostol patron saint of Puerto Plata.
13 Nuestra Señora de Fátima celebrated in Villa Sinda in Prov. Montecristi, Galván in Prov. Bahoruco, Arenoso in Prov. Duarte and Hondo Valle in Prov. Samaná.
15 San Isidro el Labrador celebrated in Castillo in Prov. Duarte, Luperón in Puerto Plata, Las Caobas in Santiago Rodríguez, CLavelLina y Uvilla in Prov. Bahoruco, EL Llano in Elías Piña, Santé y La Enea in Prov. La Altagracia.
21 Espíritu Santo celebrated in Cotuí and many of the rural communities throughout Dominican Republic. (Here is a little information on this music)
18(?) Santa Rita de Casia celebrated in Juan Barón a Prov.of San Cristóbal, Sabana Perdida in Santo Domingo
30 San Fernando Rey patron saint of Montecristi.
Junio / June
11 San Bernabé patron saint of Villa Mella.
13 San Antonio de Padua patron saint of Bonao in Prov. Monseñor Nouel, Guerra in Prov. Monte Plata, La Victoria in Santo Domingo, Villa Rivas in Prov. Duarte, Monción in Prov. Santiago Rodríguez, Miches in Prov. El Seibo
22 Corazón de María patron saint of Chaquey Abajo in Cotuí
29 San Pedro y San Pablo patron saint of San Pedro de Macorís; Las Salinas in Prov. Barahona, El Cercado in Prov. San Juan de la Maguana, Fundación de Peravia in Prov.Peravia.
30 San Pablo Apóstol patron saint celebration in Villa González
Julio / July
16 Dia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen. Patron Saint of the Fuerza Aérea de República Dominicana (FARD) / Dominican Republic Air Force.
Septiembre / September
7 Nuestra Señora de los Remedios patron saint of Azua, Cabral in Barahona, El Limón in Jimaní, Naranjo in San Juan de la Maguana
14 Exaltación de la Santísima Cruz patron saint of Mao in Valverde
29 San Miguel Arcángel / St. Michael, the Archangel is the patron saint of the Dominican armed forces. He is the Captain of the Celestial Legions. Combating the devil he leads the forces of heaven in their triumph over the powers of hell. Celebrated in the Santo Domingo town of San Miguel at the Iglesia San Miguel. History of the important Festival San Miguel.
Octubre / October
1 San Francisco patron saint of Bánica
4 Nuestra Señora del Rosario patron saint of Barahona
12 Nuestra Señora del Pilar patron saint of Sabana de la Mar and Cevicos.
14 Santa Rosa de Jesús patron saint of Elías Piña.
15 Santa Teresa de Avila patron saint of Comendador in Elías Piña
24 San Rafael patron saint of Boca Chica, Capotillo, Palma Herrada y los 21 in Moca, San Rafael del Yuma, Tamboril, Estancia Vieja in Santiago Rodríguez, Villa Tapia y Quita Sueño in Cotuí, Guayacanes in Valeverde
29 San Judas Tadeo patron saint of Escondido in Baní
Noviembre / November
1 Todos los Santos patron saint of Maguana in San Juan de la Maguana
21 Nuestra Señora de Regla patron saint of Baní
Diciembre / December
5 Santa Bárbara patron saint of Samaná
8 Inmaculada Concepción patron saint of Cotuí, Monte Grande in Dajabón, Estancia Nueva in Moca, Sombrero in Baní, Oviedo in Pedernales, Ramón Santana in San Pedro de Macorís
13 Santa Lucía patron saint of Las Matas de Farfán and El Peñón in Barahona
18 Virgen del Amparo patron saint of Polo in Barahona and Esperanza in Valverde