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This article is about a traditional custom in Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines. For the flower called "Noche Buena", see Poinsettia.

Nochebuena and Navidad are Spanish words referring to the night of Christmas Eve,[1] and celebrated on December 24 every year.[2]


Noche Buena, for Latin American cultures, is often the biggest feast for the Christmas season. [3] In Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines, the evening consists of a traditional dinner with family. pig roast, or lechón is often the center of Noche Buena for feasts around the world. [4] It is believed that the tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them whole as the family gathered for Christmas Eve. [5]

Celebrations around the World[edit]

  • The Cuban and Puerto Rican tradition, the pig is often cooked in a "Caja China," a large box where an entire pig is placed above hot coals.[6] The dinner features many side dishes and desserts, and often games of dominos are played. The tradition is continued by Cuban and Puerto Rican families in the United States.[7]
  • In Spain, Nochebuena includes a dinner with family and friends after Christmas Mass. It is particularly common to start the meal with a seafood dish followed by a bowl of hot, homemade soup. It is also common to have desserts such as turrón.
  • In some countries of Latin America Nochebuena is also celebrated on Christmas Eve and marks the final evening of the Posadas celebrations,[8] in others a dinner is served with the family usually after attended the late Mass known as Misa de Gallo.
  • In Peru, a large, juicy turkey is the star for Noche Buena. [10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ortega, Pedro Ribera, Christmas in old Santa Fe Sunstone Press, 1973
  2. ^ Puerto Rican Christmas Traditions. El Boricua. 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  3. ^ Nochebuena: Most Latinos start celebrating Christmas on December 24 The Denver Post. Roxana Soto. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  4. ^ For some Latino families, Christmas comes a day early The Los Angeles Times. Hector Becerra. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  5. ^ Nochebuena: Celebrations Start on Dec 24 in Latin-American Households Latin Post. Nicole Akoukou. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  6. ^ Cordle, Ina Paiva, On Nochebuena, many in South Florida will be roasting a pig in a “caja china” The Miami Herald, 23 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013
  7. ^ Families Gather For Traditional "Noche Buena" CBS Miami. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  8. ^ For some Latino families, Christmas comes a day early The Los Angeles Times. Hector Becerra. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  9. ^ Hungry holidays: The Filipino Noche Buena GMA News Online. Cristina Tantenco. 22 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  10. ^ Noche Buena Traditions Living in Peru. Diana P. Alano. Retrieved 5 May 2014