One of my favorite parts about traveling is getting the opportunity to experience different cultures. Everything from colorful traditions to unique cuisines and cocktails (can’t forget cocktails) makes each country and its local culture special in its own way. Did you know that at Diamond PR, we’re representing more than 15 different countries from Cuba and Colombia all the way to Czech Republic? That’s some serious culture-cred if you ask me. With the holidays upon us, I thought it might be fun to share holiday traditions from some of our native lands and the fun (and sometimes awkward) things our families have been doing to celebrate since childhood.
Cuba – This one has to come first since we’re in the 305. Cubans celebrate Noche Buena aka Christmas Eve, where family and friends gather to feast on roasted pork with moros y cristianos (black beans and rice) and desserts like arroz con leche (rice pudding).
Venezuela – I didn’t have to research this one thanks to past years’ pics of Luisana running around her block with a suitcase on New Year’s Eve (to welcome the gift of travel). Venezuelans also like to wear yellow underwear on NYE to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
Colombia – In Colombia, Christmas officially begins on ‘Candle Day’ (Dec. 7) where Colombians quema pólvora (light fireworks) and giant paper globes that are released freely into the sky.
Czech Republic – Had to ask our resident Czech, Sasha, about this one. Her family celebrates Christmas with a traditional three-course meal, which includes dumplings with beef and plum & almond gravy. Yum!
American – Ali is as close to good old-fashioned American as it gets! Each year on Thanksgiving, her family does a mullet-toss after feasting on a traditional fish fry. ‘Murica!
Italian – Italians traditionally celebrate Christmas Eve’s ’Seven Fishes’ with seven different seafood dishes. In addition to this, Julia spends her Christmas hand-making pasta with her family. Um…can I come?
Panama – Panamanians like to kick off the holidays by erecting a giant tree in Panama City beach, where there are spectacular boat parades and fireworks. The food? Chicken tamales and an eggnog-esque drink called Ron Ponche.
Jamaica – Christmas in Jamaica is all about the good life, which means feasting on native dishes like oxtail, curry goat and gungo peas, which typically ripen in December. The country also has a Junkanoo festival that includes parades, street dancing and colorful costumes.
Haiti – As a local custom, many Haitian children fill their newly cleaned shoes with straw and place them under the Christmas tree in hopes that Tonton Nwèl (Santa) will put presents inside.
Mexico – The Mexican celebration of Christmas is called las posadas and begins on December 16. For the posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens and moss. Processions are led by local children, who sing a song at each home. Each night, a different house holds the ‘Posada party.’
Poland – In Poland, Advent is the beginning of Christmas. People try not to have excess of anything, often giving up their favorite foods and forgoing partying to remember the true meaning of the holidays. Polish jews like myself and Kara celebrate Chanukah by lighting a menorah and saying prayers in Hebrew for eight nights in a row. My favorite part has always been devouring my dad’s homemade potato latkes with a side of sour cream and apple sauce.
From beachside camping in Mexico to mountain paragliding in Mendoza, Sydney is always looking for her next big adventure. When she’s not busy traveling through Latin America, this hippie-at-heart grooves to reggae, jogs on the beach and stuffs her face with Florida stone crabs.