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4 Curaçao Holiday Traditions

Category: | Published on: December 13, 2018 | By Omaily Lucas

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.

Event: New Year’s Eve at Brionplein

Every country has a square where families and friends come together to ring in the New Year. That place on Curaçao is Brionplein in Otrobanda. Early in the night groups of people will start unloading their chair and tables to get a prime place to celebrate. Some might just bring some chair, food, and drink, while others bring party tents and a whole buffet.

While the performance of musical bands, the blessing of the bishop, the different speeches occurring in Brionplein, this event has grown so big that you’ll find people sitting on the Queen Emma Bridge and on the other side of the bay, Punda.

Don’t be surprised that when the clock strikes 12, people will come up to you for a hug or handshake and to wish you Happy New Year. Whether it’s a familiar face or not, at 12 we all become one big family at Brionplein.

Customs: Incense

Curaçao is an island that was created with a close connection to nature. Nature has always been a source of food and tools to survive. That’s why around the holiday season, and especially the changing of the year, people clean their house thoroughly and fumigate it with incense. Just before midnight on the 31st of December, there is this tradition that people have to pass on a burning incense. This is an activity that is led by the one and only Dinah Veeris during the New Year’s celebration at Brionplein.

Locals believe that certain herbs have a way of bringing luck, love, and prosperity. During a season where we say goodbye to the old and hello to the new, it’s of high importance to do the same in your home and through your body.

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