Traditions of a Bicultural Christmas

I’ve almost never been able to sleep on Christmas Eve. Even in young adulthood, I was too excited.  I would wake up several times during the night and then burst into my younger sister’s room at the earliest hour she had previously agreed to in order to wake her up.

It turns out that Billy also wasn’t sleeping much on Christmas Eve, or Nochebuena, either because this is the time of the major Christmas celebration in Latin America.

The 24th is a busy day, and Billy’s family would spend the daylight hours traveling around the city visiting family and friends, wishing them good cheer. Then, everyone waits together until midnight, ushering in Christmas Day with hugs and kisses and… of course… fireworks.  After these celebrations, presents are opened and a festive Christmas dinner awaits. 

Around 3am, Billy would fall into bed.  I would wake up about two hours later.  So now, like all couples, we have merged our family traditions, and in this case, cultural celebrations for our bicultural Christmas.

The other day on Facebook SpanglishBaby asked families which they celebrate… Nochebuena or Christmas Day? A lot of folks responded “both” and I think we are moving in that direction. 

Last year, we ate our Christmas tamales, albeit at 6pm rather than 2am, and attended the Christmas Eve service at church.  We then waived our inside-the-city-limits-approved sparklers before heading to bed at a reasonable hour.  Christmas morning we enjoyed a special breakfast (my preference over a turkey dinner), read the Christmas story, and opened gifts together.  It was a fun merger of two families and two cultures.

What traditions have you chosen to include in your celebrations? If your family is multicultural, how have you merged different cultural practices? And if your bicultural life includes Latin America, I pose the same question: Do you celebrate Nochebuena, Christmas Day, or both?

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