In the tropical lands of Venezuela, the main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, or "Noche Buena" and revolves around food. Families typically start preparing the main dish a week before hand. This dish, hallaca, is made up of corn stuffed with mixed meats, olives, and raisins, wrapped in plantain leaves.
Other classic foods include a puff pastry packed with ham, a potato and carrot salad, and a creamy rum drink. The catch with eating all of this tasty grub is that they don't get to start eating until after midnight, which they countdown to by eating 12 grapes during the last 12 seconds.
On December 25th, children awake to gifts around the Nacimiento or the Christmas tree. As a predominantly Catholic country, they believe that it is Jesus who brings gifts to the children rather than Santa Claus.
Music plays a very important role in Venezuelan culture throughout the holidays. The traditional songs during this time are called aguinaldos and are of the folk genre - composed of sounds from instruments such as the maracas, a small four-string guitar, and small drums. Aguinaldo music is often performed by parrandas, a group of people, who merrily go from house to house singing these carols.
Day of the Reyes Magos
The Christmas festivities come to an official closing on January 6, the Day of the Reyes Magos, or The Three Wise Men Day. This celebrates the day when the three wise kings followed the star to Bethlehem to visit Mary and the infant Jesus. On this day, children again receive toys and candy.