The holiday season is perhaps the most amazing time of the year on Curaçao. While in many countries beauty and coziness are the main focus, here at Curaçao, ‘ambiente’ (meaning fun) takes center stage. By fun I mean, of course, party! Wherever you go you always find music, dancing, and good vibes during the holidays. Next to the countless fun parties, there also many customs and activities that form the Curaçao holiday tradition.
Music: Tambú & Aguinaldo
Tambú is a typical Curaçao music that was born during the slave period and has an African origin. This music is made by using a drum (tambú) and a hoe (chapi) while singing the lyrics in the local tongue. Tambú is always accompanied by a very sensual dance between man and women. It’s played only during the holiday season and sometimes during a folkloric occasion, but the actual moment for the Tambú is always around Christmas and New Year.
Aguinaldo is a genre of Christmas music that was born in the Latin-American culture. The influx of Latin-American culture has passed this type of music into the local Curaçao culture. The music is always performed by a group of people, referred to as “parranderos”, using different instruments like maracas, guitar, tambourine etc. Nowadays, on Curaçao, the music is supplemented with a dance performance from a group of girls.
What started as small-scale performances in friends and family setting has now grown to be a Curaçao holiday tradition. The groups of ‘parranderos’ and ‘tambú’ has become well-organized and now perform at different activities and bars to get people in the Christmas spirit. If you see them performing somewhere, don’t be shy and join the party.
Event: Pagara Parties
Perhaps one of the most famous Curaçao holiday tradition is the chunk of ‘pagara’ parties organized on the island. Starting from the 26th of December until the 31st of December there are at least one (often more) ‘pagara’ parties and firework shows every day. The streets get closed so people can enjoy the show and see how the sky gets lit by the different fireworks. A ‘pagara’ is a long string of fireworks bound together that makes a loud crackle noise. Often it’s companies, including bars and restaurants, that organizes ‘pagara’ parties. The most famous one is the huge ‘pagara’ that is lit every year on the 31st of December in the historic neighborhood of Pietermaai. The whole local community, together with visitors, gather around the Pietermaai area making it a huge block party. This one is definitely one of the Curaçao Holiday Traditions you don’t want to miss.