Music in the air is the ultimate signification that the Xmas season has come to Puerto Rico. The trullas, or small bands of carolers in handmade colorful costumes, seem to have invaded the streets and they arrive at the doorstep of their friends unannounced – of course, uninvited during the late hours of the night singing carols and playing different string and percussion instruments.
They will not stop until the host invites them in for food and drinks. The Christmas traditions of Puerto Rico is a six-week season full of music and carols.
The Christmas traditions of Puerto Rico carols are either religious villancico or secular aguinaldo. Villancico ballads are centered on the Nativity while aguinaldos are merry and sometimes humorous. Aguinaldos accompany season greetings and feastings. Like the trend in the rest of the world, newer aguinaldos sometimes do not have Xmas theme and include the Spanish translations of favorite western carols.
The early morning Mass of Carols occurs for nine days before Xmas culminating in the midnight mass. The celebrations of Xmas Day continue on to the Innocents’ Day on December 28 commemorating the murder of children by Herod with a day of trickery. The Christmas traditions of Puerto Rico culminate with the feast of Three Kings or Epiphany on January 6th. The children leave water, grass, and grain under their beds on the evening of January 5 to feed the camels of the wise men, who come during the night and brought the Holy Family gifts. Some extend the celebrations for eight days after Epiphany.
The feast on the midnight of Christmas Eve serves the favorite dishes of the Christmas traditions of Puerto Rico, including roast pig, cooked rice and peas, and pasteles. The favorite drink is coquito made of coconut milk and white rum while the favorite desserts are coconut pudding and rice and raisins cooked in coconut milk. The decorations of Xmas include the manger, figures or saints and the Holy Family as well as the three kings.