Graduate Accounting Students Reflect on Holiday Season in Puerto Rico

Written by Limary Lopez-Ortiz, MAcc Student

The Black Friday [Thanksgiving Day] is the date that marks the first of the Christmas season in Puerto Rico. Starting this day and finishing on January 14 of the next year, Puerto Rico is crowned for the “Longest Christmas Season.” During this period, in the nights and at dawns, a group of people, family and friends, can wake up you with an unexpected “asalto.” This asalto is a group that goes to your house and starts to sing at your door until you wake up to shut up the group. After you wake up, the group comes to your house and the owner of the house starts to prepare appetizers for the group. The appetizers can vary. Sometimes it can be hot cocoa with crackers and dices of cheese, “sandwichitos de mezcla” (sandwiches with a mix of cold meat and Cheez Whiz) and Coke or more complex with an “asopao” (soup of shrimps or chicken).

On Christmas Eve, Catholic and Christian populations go to the church to “celebrate” the birth day of Jesus Christ. On New Year’s Eve, everyone goes to the church to give thanks to God for one more year of life and to present to God the year and plans that come with the New Year. 

In my family, after the Christmas service, we go to my grandma’s house to eat and expect the Christmas Day. At 11:55pm, all children go to one room to “sleep” until Santa comes home. At 12:00am, one of my uncles does the “HO HO HO” in the window and this is the signal to come out to pick up the present under the tree in the “marquesina” (garage). After opening one present, we stay reunited until 2:00am.

On Christmas Day, you wake up early to search the present in your tree. After this, in my family and big part of the population, we reunite to eat and afterwards go on a road trip to Old San Juan.

After New Year’s in Puerto Rico, January 6 is an important date. This day is the Three King’s Day. This holiday is associated with the Three Kings that go to the manger to give gold, incense and myrrh to baby Jesus. On the Three King’s Eve, each child and their family are motivated to collect grass in a shoebox and water in a bowl to leave under the Christmas tree to feed the Three King’s camels. In the next morning, the shoebox with the grass and the water bowl are empty and the Kings leave a present for the good children, similar to Santa Claus. 


Written by Antonio Soto Rodriguez, MAcc Student

I was born in the Dominican Republic, but I moved to Puerto Rico at age 5 and have lived there ever since. There are differences between the two cultures, however, there are also similarities, including many family traditions that are upheld from one generation to the next. 

I want to begin by pointing out the fact that we do like to party and Puerto Rico has the longest Christmas season in the world. In Puerto Rico, Christmas begins on Thanksgiving Day. On this day, the entire family comes together and we give thanks to God for everything we have.  We typically eat turkey with arroz con gandules. It is plentiful and enough for a week's worth of leftovers that feature the turkey in every meal, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

After Thanksgiving Day, we begin to celebrate by both attending and hosting parties with friends and family until December 24. On this night, we celebrate “Noche Buena,” which is when family and close friends get together to celebrate and spend quality time with one another. We eat a lot of food. For example there is arroz con gandules, lechon or pernil asado, ensalada de papa, ensalada de coditos, cuajitos and pitorro. 

We are very loud people and again, we like to party, so after we eat, we start dancing. The type of music that we dance to varies between salsa, bachata, and merengue, but between the dancing, we do listen to some Christmas music.

By the way, I love dancing, and that is one of the things I miss most from Puerto Rico right now. So then, on Christmas Day, December 25, it is a slightly more relaxed atmosphere. Everyone is focused on receiving and giving gifts, listening to music and eating the delicious leftovers from the Christmas Eve feast. 

Latinos, as a whole, celebrate the Christmas season with passion because of the most important tradition of all: strong family bonds.