Tag Archives: respect

Tradition – Marriage, Funeral

Marriage and Funeral Traditions in Dominican Republic

The Marriage and Funeral traditions in Dominican Republic are passed down from generation to generation. Marriage and Wedding traditions are very important. Starting with asking for the hand in marriage, the service and giving of gifts. The same with Funeral traditions. Many traditions, such as the wearing of black, have changed for many. Even though nowadays many modern traditions have seeped into the culture, the old traditions and ways are still honored.

Marriage and Preparing For Marriage Traditions | Funeral Traditions

Marriage/ Matrimoniales Traditions in Dominican Republic

Taking some pre-wedding pictures at Plazolita Padre Billing in the Colonial Zone.
Taking some pre-wedding pictures at Plazolita Padre Billing in the Colonial Zone.

The man usually proposes.

If the couple decides to have a church wedding/ boda and reception then the bride’s family does most of the preparations.

Weddings can be expensive and so some people choose to have smaller gatherings or just marry in civil court.

As of January 2012 The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has trained pastors representing non-Catholic religious denominations to celebrate weddings including the Iglesia Asamblea de Dios, Asamblea de Iglesia Pentecostal, Concilio Cristiano, Iglesia Apostolica Misionera, Iglesia Adventista del Septimo Dia, Concilio Menonita, Iglesia Metodista Libre, Dios de la Profecia and Asamblea Cristiana. In the past, only a Catholic Church priest could marry a couple. Followers of other Christian religions had to go through a civil marriage process with a Justice of Peace. In the past, anyone wanting to marry outside of the Catholic faith had to marry in a Civil Court or Judges Chamber so they can have all the necessary legal documents. The couple would marry in civil court or in a judge’s chamber the morning of the wedding or even the day before the actual church wedding. Then they could have their ceremony in their chosen religion.

Bridesmaids and large wedding parties are not the norm here. Having a cute little ring bearer and flower girl is. Many times the little ones dress the same as the bride and groom, in smaller scale.

Having “padrinos and madrinas” (godparents of the wedding) is very traditional. The godparents are usually the mother of the groom and the father of the bride and their role is to serve as witnesses. Along with the couple, the godparents also sign the marriage certificate.

Another tradition is to have a child (usually a boy) carry the “arras” or coins on a silver tray. The boy would have 13 coins (they are usually 10 cent coins) that at some point during the ceremony will be passed to the priest. The priest will pass them to the groom and he in turn will pass them to the bride. This exchange signifies that the couple pledges to provide for each other and that material goods are to be shared equally. The whole thing is very symbolic and is quite romantic.

In addition to the flower girl, the ring bearer and the coins bearer, the ceremony also has a child that carries a fancy white bible.

The mother of the groom, escorted by the groom, enters the church first. The mother of the bride then enters escorted by the father of the groom. The wedding party enters next including the children, usually entering in pairs.

Another Dominican tradition is to have what is called a “ceremonia cantada” meaning that every piece of music was actually sung, instead of being just instrumental.

It used to be that Dominican wedding receptions consisted mostly of cake and champagne, along with light appetizers at best. Today, sit down dinners or a party are the style.

There is usually a bachelor party / despedida de soltero and bachelorette party / despedida de soltera. The bridal shower is another tradition.

The vast majority of Dominicans deliver their gifts to the bride’s home before the wedding day. Never take a gift with you to the wedding ceremony or reception.

Taking wedding pictures at the Ruinas del Monistario San Francisco under dark skies.
Taking wedding pictures at the Ruinas del Monistario San Francisco under dark skies.

The church is usually not divided into “bride’s” and “groom’s” sides. So you can sit where you would like.

At the end of the liturgy, a large number of people go to the altar. These are witnesses, and there could be dozens. Asking someone to be a witness is a way of honoring them as a special guest. Family members and friends will be included.

The newly married couple will be the first to exit the church. Do not try to greet them outside. Instead, proceed directly to the reception.

The bride and her father have the first dance. The groom and the bride’s mother join them. Then the entire wedding party and family enter the dance floor. After this then the guests can start dancing.

Most newlywed couples will stay until the end of their party, which could last til 3 AM or later. They are never the first to leave. If you want to leave do not hesitate to leave before the bride and groom. Any time after the meal is socially acceptable, although you are likely to miss quite a party.

There is no tradition about the Groom not seeing the Bride before the wedding. This is when most of the wedding party photographs are taken.

Many of the best locations for picture taking is in the Colonial Zone with all it’s beautiful old buildings, parks and monuments.

Funeral Traditions/ Tradiciones Funerarias

Dominicans show much respect for their dead. A funeral is an event that will gather people together, including family members, who may not have seen each other for a number of years. Inside the chapel it is sedated and reverent, but outside, it is livelier almost reminiscent of a normal social occasion.

A cemetery in the town of Nizao
A cemetery in the town of Nizao

The Wake will continue until 12 noon the next day, followed by burial at the cemetery. It is the family’s choice, some decide to retire at midnight and return the next day around 7AM for the burial.

Many families follow on with a series of memorial masses held for nine (9) consecutive days. This is known as los nueves dias, novenario, or la vela. When and where these masses are to be held will be announced. It is not necessary to go to these masses unless you were a close friend of the person or family, especially if you attended the funeral. One is never expected to attend all the masses unless you want to do so. If you were not able to attend the funeral you should go to one of the masses. You might choose to go to the last one that usually will be announced in the press. This marks the end of the mourning period ceremonies.

The nine days of mourning usually consist of three days of grieving (crying and reminiscing). 3 days of silence (thinking and reverence). The last 3 days are for release (accepting and separating).

To “cumplir” is to act in accordance with the standard social procedures. A person will go to a funeral whether or not it is his desire; it is his duty. To “cumplir” is important in this society. It signifies respect and caring.

Wreaths on graves in Bayahibe.
Wreaths on graves in Bayahibe.

Many of the poorer people are only laid out for 1 day in the home. This is because of the heat and fast decomposition of the body. Also, the caskets usually have a window for viewing. Maybe this is to keep the smell in and bugs out.

Flowers are not expected.

Only good friends and family are expected at the burial.

A picture slide show of the Cementerio Nacional de la Avenida Independencia/ National Cemetery on Avenue Independencia, Santo Domingo.

National Songs and Pledge Of Dominican Republic

The National and Patriotic Songs and Pledges of the Dominican Republic.

These patriotic songs and pledges are a very important part of the Dominica culture. Patriotism is embedded in the heart of the people and they are very proud of their national heritage.

Quisqueyanos Valientes/ Valiant Men of Quisqueya | Himno a la Bandera/ Song to the Flag | Pledge to the Flag

The National Anthem of Dominican Republic/ El Himno Nacional de la República Dominicana

The song Quisqueyanos Valientes was written in 1883 with the collaborate efforts of poet Emilio Prud’Homme with music by José Reyes. Congress first passed a law that declared this song to be the national anthem in 1897. Gen. Ulysses Heureaux (Lilis), who was in charge of the country at this time, did not enact the law. It lay dormant for thirty-seven years. Finally, on May 30, 1934, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, The President of the Dominican Republic, wrote the law that officially declared the unofficial Dominican Republic National anthem official. He made the Song of the Fatherland/ Canto a la Patria, Quisquueyanos Valientes official on May 30, 1934.

If you happen to hear this song played always stand to show respect while it is being played.

The Military Bad playing Quisqueyanos Valientes i Parque Duarte.
The Military Bad playing Quisqueyanos Valientes i Parque Duarte.

Quisqueyanos Valientes

Quisqueyanos valientes, alcemos
Nuestro canto con viva emoción,
Y del mundo a la faz ostentemos
Nuestro invicto, glorioso pendón.

¡Salve! el pueblo que, intrépido y fuerte.
A la guerra a morir se lanzó,
Cuando en bélico reto de muerte
sus cadenas de esclavo rompió.

Ningún pueblo ser libre merece
Si es esclavo, indolente y servil;
Si en su pecho la llama no crece
que templó el heroísmo viril.

Mas Quisqueya la indómita y brava
Siempre altiva la frente alzará;
Que si fuere vil veces esclava
Otras tantas ser libre sabrá.

Que si dolo y ardid la expusieron
de un intruso señor al desdén,
a Las Carreras ¡a Beler!..
campos fueron que cubiertos de gloria se ven.

Que en la cima de heroíco baluarte,
de los libres el verbo encarnó,
donde el genio de Sánchez y Duarte
a ser libre o morir enseñó.

Y si pudo inconsulto caudillo
de esas glorias el brillo empañar,
de la guerra se vió en Capotillo
La bandera de fuego ondear.

Y el incendio que atónito deja
de Castilla al soberbio león,
de las playas gloriosas le aleja
donde flota el cruzado pendón.

Compatriotas, mostremos erguida nuestra frente,
orgullosos de hoy más;
que Quisqueya será destruida
pero sierva de nuevo, jamás.

Que es santuario de amor cada pecho
do la patria se siente vivir;
Y es su escudo invencible, el derecho;
Y es su lema: ser libre o morir.

Libertad que aún se yergue serena
La victoria en su carro triunfal.
Y el clarín de la guerra aún resuena
Pregonando su gloria inmortal.

¡Libertad! Que los ecos se agiten
Mientras llenos de noble ansiedad
Nuestros campos de gloria repiten
¡Libertad! ¡Libertad! ¡Libertad!

English Translation – My rough translation of the first verse.

(Valiant Men of Quisqueya (Dominican Republic)
Let us sing with strong feeling
And let us show to the world our invincible,
glorious banner.
Hail, O people who, strong and intrepid,
launched into war and went to death!
Under a warlike menace of death,
You broke your chains of slavery.
No country deserves to be free
If it is an indolent and servile slave,
If the call does not grow loud within it.
Tempered by a virile heroism.
But the brave and indomitable Quisqueya
Will always hold its head high,
For if it were a thousand times enslaved,
It would a thousand times regain freedom.

Fuerza Aérea en Zona Colonial – Himno Nacional Republica Dominicana.

To learn about the history of the Dominican Flag/ La Bandera and National Symbols.

The Bandera Dominicana / Dominican Flag flying high at the Faro a Colón with the view of the city of Santo Domingo in the distance.
The Bandera Dominicana / Dominican Flag flying high at the Faro a Colón with the view of the city of Santo Domingo in the distance.


Ya empezó su trabajo la escuela
Y es preciso elevarte a lo azul,
Relicaria de viejos amores,
Mientras reine la mágica luz.
¿No sentimos arder a tu influjo
la luz viva de un fuego interior
cuando flotas alegre, besada
por los cálidos rayos de Sol?
¡Dios! Parece decir, ¡OH Bandera!
La sublime expresión de tu azul;
¡Patria!, el rojo de vivida llama;
¡Libertad!, dice el blanco en la cruz.
Mientras haya una escuela que cante
Tu grandeza, Bandera de amor,
Flotarás con el alma de Duarte,
Vivirás con el alma de Dios.
( Letras: Ramón E. Jiméne)

The Dominican Republic Flag on the Casa del Sacramento.
The Dominican Republic Flag on the Casa del Sacramento.

Pledge to the Flag/ Juramento a la Bandera

¡Qué linda en el tope estás
dominicana bandera!
Quién te viera, quién te viera,
más arriba, mucho más
(by Gastón Fernando Deligne, Poeta dominicano)

The history of the Dominican Republic Flag

The flag of Dominican Republic waving over Plaza España.
The flag of Dominican Republic waving over Plaza España.