December 24, 2018

Noche Buena, Spanish-speaking countries

Christmas Eve is called Noche Buena in Spanish (Good Night) and it is the most important family gathering of the year. In many Latin American countries, a huge feast takes place. Depending on where you are, the type of food eaten will differ. In some Caribbean countries, the night’s feast revolves around lechón asado, or roast pork. This is often cooked in a Caja China box, with the entire pig roasting under hot coals. The food is served with rice and beans, vegetables, salad, and other delicious side dishes. In Mexico, tamales, atole, or bacalao is typically eaten with buñuelos, or small donuts, for dessert. In Spain, you may find people feasting on seafood and soup, with turrón for dessert—a type of cake made of honey, sugar, egg whites, and roasted almonds or nuts.

Dessert is a Christmas sweet called turrón, which is a nougat made of toasted sweet almonds. Another typical festive sweet is called Polvorones which is made from almonds, flour, and sugar.

After dinner on Nochebuena, people will go to a Misa de Gallo, or midnight mass, at their church. It’s called Misa de Gallo because some believed that a rooster, or gallo, crowed the night that Jesus was born. There at the church, and in homes, people may see poinsettias, the beautiful red flower that has come to symbolize the winter holiday.

Poinsettias, the flower of Noche Buena.

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