Nochebuenisima! How 12 Latina Moms Celebrate Christmas Eve
We asked Latina moms to share how they make Nochebuena extra special for their families. They don't call it a "good night" for nothing!
Like anyone else, Latina moms get their families in the holiday spirit by going all out on their decorations, listening to Christmas carols and watching American classics like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. But come Christmas Eve, these moms go back to their roots and take Nochebuena—the Latino version of Christmas Eve that translates to "good night"—to a whole other level, with music, dancing, and a few fun surprises. Here, real Latina moms tell us how they make Nochebuena extra special for their families.
"On Nochebuena, it's all about the Spanish music. We don't sit around and watch TV. At midnight, we grab whatever we can find—like maracas—start making noise, and sing a Christmas song like Feliz Navidad." —Rayza Andrade, mom of Camila, 5 and Rianna, 3
"We put on the Puerto Rican Christmas theme song -La Fiesta de Pilito! We eat traditional Puerto Rican foods as the song plays in the background and we join with guiros, maracas and other traditional instruments as we wear our pava hats and dance the night away." —Melissa Taveras, mom of Evan, 6, Max 5 and 10 month-old twins, Marcos and Emme
"We do a gift exchange, but we reveal our Secret Santa by playing charades. So the gift giver gets up and "acts out" who they're giving a gift to—it's always hilarious!" —Francis Taveras, mom of Valentina 6 and Camilo, 3
"We drink coquito (Puerto Rican eggnog) and listen to música navideña [Spanish Christmas songs] while the kids wait for "Santa" to arrive at midnight. Every year he comes through the door ready to give each child their gift. The adults all sit and watch the kids' reactions as they open presents. The fun part is having one of the men in the family dress up while the women help give the gifts away." —Kelly Cruz, mom of Ezra 5
"Wherever we are for Nochebuena, I bring my kids matching Christmas pajamas and they put them on before we leave. Then we go home and wake up for Christmas and spend all day in those pajamas." —Vanessa Boada, mom of Emily, 16 and Julian 12
"We celebrate by opening gifts at midnight. It's a newer tradition for me but my husband, Billy's, family is the reason we do it. They're from Guatemala and they make sure you know who gave who what!" —Erica Flamm-Pennant, mom of Chloe, 5 and Nila, 2
"We open a coconut from our own palm tree and shred it to make dulce de coco [a coconut milk dessert]. I let my son participate in the preparation hoping he will grow to appreciate the uniqueness of being a Cuban-American and the work and love that Nochebuena food prep entails." —Sandra Llerena, mom of Eric James, 4
"I keep with tradition and make a big Dominican dinner with all the trimmings. I let my daughter open one present before going to bed. I like to call it 'Nochebuena lite'" —Jane Torres-Lavoro, mom of Genevieve, 6
"We attend midnight mass then head to my mami's house for a late night feast of tamales, pozole and ensalada de nochebuena. We also allow the kiddos to open a few fun gifts and we play loteria—the Mexican version of Bingo!" —Vianney Rodriguez, mom of Angelica, 17 and Lisandra, 11
"After eating our homemade tamales, buñuelos and ponche navideño, we let our children open just one present before we go to bed: matching family PJ's every year!" —Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, mom of Maya, 14 and Blake, 8
“We read the story of Jesus’ birth from the Bible together. Then, the boys leave out cuernitos (croissants) and a Mexican Coke for Santa before going to sleep. We’re all in bed by midnight!” —Melanie Mendez-Gonzales, mom of Beto, 9 and Joe, 7
“Nobody is allowed to open gifts until midnight, so we cover the clocks because the children begin to get antsy hours before it's go-time. This year we will be packing our travel menorah and introducing some of our Jewish holiday customs to my family!” —Lola Wiarco Dweck, mom of Amado, 2