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There are many interesting traditions in Venezuela regarding the holiday of Christmas. Venezuela tends to be a mainly Catholic country and the religious celebrations begins on December 16th and ends on the 24th. To wake people for early morning mass firecrackers are lit every morning. Some people in the capital city, Caracas, even roller skate to morning mass. The streets are often closed to cars by eight a.m. so people can roller skate to mass. Children go to bed earlier during this period and will tie a string around their big toe and hang the end of it out of a window. Roller skaters will pull on any strings hanging out of windows as they go by.
Traditional Christmas songs called Gaita music are very popular during this time of year. It’s played on several instruments; a four stringed guitar named a Cuatro, a Venezuelan drum called a tambora, and a Charrasca.
On Christmas it is said that Santa and baby Jesus deliver the children their presents. Nativity scenes in homes are a big thing for Christmas. At midnight on Christmas day families place the baby Jesus into the manger in the nativity scene. The interiors of homes are decorated with lights as well as the exteriors and Christmas trees are put up. The main celebration for Christmas happens on midnight of Christmas eve with the mass called “Misa De Gallo”. Families all attend mass together and afterwards go home and have a large fancy dinner. The dinner includes mostly tamales and pan de jamon which is a long bread filled with cooked ham and raisins. Desert is Dulce de Lechoza, a dish consisting of green papaya and brown sugar cooked slowly for hours.
Christmas isn’t the only holiday when kids get presents though; They receive presents on a holiday called the day of the Reyes Magos on January 6th. That night is said to be when the wise men were looking for Jesus and are still looking. Children put a piece of straw on their nightstands because the wise men only stop at places that look like stables in their search for the baby Jesus. Children wake up the next morning with presents on their nightstands and if they have a black mark on their cheek it is said they’ve been kissed by the king of the Ethiopians.