As we await the coming of the New Year, settle down with your favourite drink to read all about the Dominican New Year Party, contributed by Enrique Casanova.
Let’s talk about one of my favorite country’s traditions: the Dominican New Year Party.
New Year is one of the most important traditional Christmas celebrations in the Dominican Republic. It is celebrated on December 31 in the company of family and friends to wait for the New Year to arrive. It is a party in which you share and express your wishes for the coming year. The most interesting part is that this type of party varies depending on the area of the country. In the countryside, far from the city, this party becomes exaggeratedly large, because we Dominicans tend to have large, close-knit families. It is beautiful to see how even uncles and cousins from different countries get together just for dinner.
And what is done?
The first thing is the house: we always tend to have dinner at the house of our oldest relative. In my case, it is my great-grandmother, who has a huge house on a hill. These types of houses have a history. Since most of the uncles or cousins are raised together in the fields, it is normal to see 15 to 20 people living in houses like this.
The second thing is the clothing: imagine that you have super mega special clothing just for one day, such a special day to see your whole family eating together. Well, when I was little, I didn’t like to dress formally only to later sweat dancing with aunts or cousins.
The third thing is the food. Dominicans do not tend to eat bread for dinner, and more so in the countryside, but this day is an exception. From bread, lasagna, groceries, salad that I never thought was salad, a lot of different types of rice to one of the parts that I like the most: sweets. And I can’t leave out the homemade turkey that is cooked, although it can vary depending on the area; and you could alternatively eat pork.
We are already getting serious at this point. Even though Dominicans drink them almost every day of happiness, they are absolutely necessary. Alcoholic beverages are and will always be essential for our New Year’s party. You will never see so many bottles of different things together on a table, and you have to drink quickly because even grandmothers drink and then it’s over.
All these parts are the final preparation to the traditional dancing; all of the above is needed to dance with an aunt or uncle to the rhythm of the typical Dominican Christmas music. From the time you arrive at the house, there is music. Normally, music is played from the radio, or a family member connects the cell phone to a huge speaker – I often don’t even know where they get them from, but they have a funny name: “kitipo”. Dance professionals are always older people; they have a lot of experience. Imagine dancing every time there is a celebration or every Saturday night.
We Dominicans love to dance, but not just anything. In this case, the tradition in the fields is to dance a lot of typical merengue and a rhythm, also with a funny name, called “Perico Ripiao”. And ‘what is it?’ you ask me; well, we take the rhythm of the merengue and we speed it up as much as possible; we extend the song from 5 minutes to 8 minutes; and we add the accordion. “La cheflera” is one of the songs that activates and is always played at the party of “Fefita la Grande”, a woman who is a tradition in the Dominican Republic for her musical themes. Here the link of the song cited above: La Chiflera.
Then it’s time to dance until midnight. The curious thing is that the people who dance the most are the oldest, and young people always get tired first and even fall asleep first. I’ll never understand that, but it seems that experience beats youth in that area.
When midnight arrives and the cannon sounds signaling that the New Year has arrived, all of the gathered people hug each other with joy and thus celebrate the farewell to the ‘Old’ Year and greet the new one.
More typical music:MERENGUE TÍPICO MIX – Los Mejores Variados Para Bailar
One of my favorites: Juan Luis Guerra – La Cosquillita