Vacationing in Puerto Rico is a unique experience. Its nature and beaches amaze anyone. What many don’t know is that they can also enjoy its typical festivals and gastronomic variety. The traditions in Puerto Rico are very varied. Its festivals will make your trip a unique experience.
Puerto Ricans are very cheerful people. If you’re from more reserved countries, you’ll be surprised by how strangers friendly greet you on the street. Even without knowing you, many will talk to you, shake hands with you and even hug you!Those who live on this island are commonly referred to as “boricuas“, a term that dates back to colonial times. It refers to the original habitants of the island, also known as ‘mestizos’. This diversified culture in Puerto Rico is manifested in its customs and traditions.
Traditions in Puerto Rico You Should Know About
As in all countries, there are typical celebrations that take place every year. Many of them are related to the country’s religion. Even if you don’t believe in them, Puerto Ricans won’t mind you taking part in their customs. It’s a perfect way to feel and understand their culture.
1- Patron Saint Festivities
These take place mainly in January and December in every town of Puerto Rico. There are 78 Fiestas Patronales in total distributed around Puerto Rico’s towns. It’s worth mentioning these festivals are not held on the same dates.
During a Patron Saint Festival, the locals gather in the main square and carry out different activities. Parades, games, a wide variety of typical food and a mix of live music with contemporary hits and folklore tracks are the main attraction.
Make some time in your schedule and drop by. You definitely can’t miss out on these festivals!
2- Mask Festival
Every December the 28th, Hatilios’ inhabitants fill the streets with cheerful colors and a warm atmosphere of joy and festivity.
The Festival de Máscaras is one of the most deeply rooted traditions in Puerto Rico, dating back to the 19th century. Immigrants from the Carany Islands gave birth to this event.
The Festival slowly made its way into the Puerto Rican culture year after year until it became a local tradition. In it, neighbors roam around the streets with handmade masks and parade through the main streets. Both children and adults love its playful tone.
There are also those who dress up their cars and trucks for the Mask Festival. At the later stages of the festival, a competition is held to decide which masks are the best.
3- San Sebastian Street Festivities
It is celebrated in Old San Juan, in January, and functions as the after-party of Christmas. In fact, there are many tourists who travel to Puerto Rico just to enjoy the San Sebastián Street Festival.
The Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastían is one of the most popular celebrations in Puerto Rico.
Parades, musical shows, etc. take place. There is also the popular parade of the “cabezudos”, which involves handmade giant dolls. They are several meters high and circle around the city.
Dolls have their own personalities, so the festival is full of silly interactions between dolls and people. It’s impossible not to laugh during this festival!
4- The Night of San Juan
Every June the 23rd, at night, Puerto Ricans go to the shores of the island to follow a traditional ritual.
This is a religious event that celebrates San Juan Bautista’s birth. Puerto Ricans enter the sea three times with their backs to the ground to ward off evil spirits. During this event, there are lots of bonfires ashore with people singing around them.
Traditional Foods in Puerto Rico
Not only does Puerto Rico offer great sights and cultural events, but also otherworldly cuisine. There is such a variety of exquisite food that you’ll want to try them all. There are even festivities dedicated to the island’s food:
1. The Saborea Puerto Rico Food Festival
This is the main food festival of the island, with over 60 restaurants taking part in it.
The test-tasting festival is usually held during Spring and gathers the best chefs Puerto Rico has to offer. The event takes place in one of the most beautiful municipalities of the country: Carolina. Many tourists visit Puerto Rico to experience the Saborea Food Festival.
2. San Juan SoFo Food Festival
SoFo Festival is different from most food traditions in Puerto Rico: you can try small portions of food without paying too much.
The name SoFo comes from the area in which the festival is celebrated: South Fortaleza, a tourist attraction in Viejo San Juan. The event takes place twice in a year: around June and December.
In the SoFo festival, more than 40 restaurants set up booths offering a tasting of their products, sometimes for free. Locally produced beverage are also on display. Even if you’re full, you can enjoy the various local artists performing around La Fortaleza.
3. Macabeo Festival
Food occupies a very important place in Puerto Rican culture: it’s a trademark feature of the island. Puerto Ricans are very proud of their unique dishes and its backgrounds. The macabeos are part of the Caribbean menu.
In Trujillo Alto, in the first days of December, the city is brimming with life during the Macabeo Festival. Chefs gather and cook their own version of macabeos to celebrate how significant this meal is for the locals.
Additionally, as in most celebrations in Puerto Rico, there is a lot of music to liven up the atmosphere. Another feature of this festival is that trova competitions are also held. Two singers will improve singing duets; however, anyone can participate!
4. Coffee Festival
In February, Maricao celebrates a festival allusive to this drink. As in all the other festivities, you can enjoy parades and good music. Some of the best coffees in the world are grown in this area. You can buy some samples to take home and remember your fabulous experience.
Experiencing and enjoying the many traditions in Puerto Rico will make your trip a unique experience, don’t miss it!