It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I can’t help but remember the traditions of the festive season in my home country, Venezuela.

Like many catholic countries, Venezuela celebrates the birth of Jesus, so the main event is on Christmas Eve. Families get together to celebrate, eat, drink, give presents and dance until late into the night. Everyone is invited and everyone brings something to share. These gatherings can easily reach 30 to 50 people.

The evening meal consists of a Venezuelan dish, Hallaca (a sort of pie made of corn dough stuffed with pork and beef stew wrapped in plantain leaves and cooked a few days in advance), with either roast beef or pork, a slice of special baked ham bread and a ‘hen salad’ which is actually made with shredded chicken breast, cooked carrots and potatoes.

Making hallacas with the family

We have crazy traditions, and I’m not 100 percent sure where they come from, but when I was in Venezuela, it just seemed normal!

For example, at midnight, Father Christmas doesn’t bring presents, but baby Jesus does! On the 6th of January, the three wise men bring presents for the children. A week before Christmas there are early church services around 5am followed by music in the squares for children to roller skate or cycle to. All of this happens while drinking hot chocolate “to get warm” in a country where the temperature remains pretty much the same during the whole year (around 28 degrees C).

People tend to wear brand new clothes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but the tradition is that the women have to wear yellow knickers to attract good luck -I guess they associate the yellow with the gold!

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, we drink a glass of fizz with 12 grapes which you eat in between sips and make a wish for every month of the new year. Another crazier tradition is to hold a bank note in your hand at midnight to attract fortune and if you wish to travel, then you walk round the block dragging a suitcase after midnight.
I guess every country has different traditions but for Venezuelans, families getting together is key and probably shared by every single culture around the world.

Luis Berti
Finance Manager