A country that is ripe with Christmas traditions, the Dominican Republic is the perfect holiday getaway for those who still want to hold on to some of that Christmas spirit. Native Dominicans who've moved away often use Christmas as a time to go back and visit family, creating an atmosphere of joy and celebration throughout their share of the island.
Many Dominican Republic residents celebrate the holiday with carol singing, dancing, and large dinners on Christmas eve. Walk around the country's most popular quarters and villages and you might find yourself joining in on the fun and meeting new friends along the way. In addition to fun traditions, the island itself is a beautiful haven for those looking to escape gloomy and cold weather.
For those looking to visit the Dominican Republic this holiday season, we've rounded up fun activities and traditions to celebrate over Christmas:
1. Adopt the tradition of Angelitos
The tradition of Angelitos (translates to little angels) involves exchanging small gifts amongst family and friends. For context, it's basically the secret Santa of the Dominican. Each person is assigned someone to gift and keeps it a secret until the time for opening arrives.
While a vacation to the Dominican Republic during the holidays is a gift in itself, this is a fun way to celebrate with presents on Christmas day. Additionally, assigning one person to buy a gift for relieves the usual pressure of buying multiple presents for the whole family.
2. Take a safari tour
Going on safari excursions is a great way to get a sense of the Dominican, touring the scenic countryside and rural villages. Tours typically take place in open air vehicles with off road suspension, as to go off the beaten path. Adventurous and informative, visitors can find reputable tour companies throughout the island.
While safari excursions aren't exactly holiday-centric, they're still one of the most fun activities to experience while visiting.
3. Find the nearest Fiesta Patronales
Fiesta Patronales are celebrations honoring the Patron Saint and held in cities and villages throughout the Dominican Republic. For each celebration, residents carry a wooden image of the patron saint throughout their community. Known for their colorful decorations and joyous atmosphere, these celebrations are worth seeking out.
4. Eat a traditional Christmas dinner
A Dominican Republic family will usually enjoy a large dinner with authentic island cuisine on Christmas Eve. If you're staying at a vacation rental, take advantage of the full kitchen by taking a stab at creating these dishes yourself. Dishes typically include puerco asado (roasted pork), pollo asado (roasted chicken), ensalada rusa (a salad with potatoes, carrots, peas, and boiled egg), pasteles en hojas (tropical root veggies cooked in plantain leaves), and dulces (sweets like jellies, caramels, and marshmallows).
5. Spend time in the water
It's Christmas, freezing in your hometown, and you get to soak up the sun at one of the Dominican Republic's gorgeous beaches. Lucky you! For those looking to unplug and relax, find yourself a spot on the beach and stay put. For adventure-seekers, there are plenty of options for activities, from driving dune buggies to parasailing to reef snorkeling.
Visiting the Dominican Republic During the Holidays
Regardless of which traditions and activities Dominican Republic visitors choose to partake in, Christmas (and the surrounding holiday season) is bound to be a fun, relaxing, and festive time to visit the island.