Traditional Customs during

The Holidays in Aruba

January 6, 2021

Learn about holidays customs in Aruba and feel at home from day one

For Arubans, the holidays are twice as happy: 90% of our kids go study abroad, mainly to The Netherlands, The States, Canada, and Latin America. They come back home this season to spend Christmas with their families.

The best Christmas gift any parent could ask for!

Some of our customs during this season are: 

On Aruba music plays a big part in any celebration, you will find bands around the public places on the island playing Gaita. 

Gaita is most known for its Christmas songs. It will be played on the radio from November to the beginning of January. And they will be present in almost every Christmas activity, you will see a band of women singing and the men playing the "furro", "charrasca", maracas, "cuatro", and tambora, the instruments needed to play this music.

After Christmas Eve, there will usually be a band playing Dande. Dande is a traditional music Aruban’s play to welcome the New Year. The band usually visits houses or stands in front of a group of people and sing a song wishing them prosperity. 

It is a sign of good fortune if a person donates while they sing. They usually pass around a hat for you to drop the money in. 

During the Christmas season, most students that study abroad will visit home to enjoy Christmas the Aruban way with friends and family. Christmas is all about spending time with family and eating good food. 

The typical Christmas Menu would look like this: as an appetizer some small bite-size snacks such as mini croquet, deviled eggs, and cheese balls. 

For the main entrée, some of the most traditional dish to eat is "Ayaca". Adopted from Venezuela. It is a cornmeal-based dish that consists of pork, chicken, cashew, olives, and raisins or prunes.  It will be wrapped in a banana leaf and boiled for an hour. It has a variety of textures and flavors.

Other popular main dishes are the Christmas ham or baked ham, stuffed turkey,  and ham bread; it is made with bread, green olives, ham, and raisins. It is sweet yet savory at the same time. 

Close to the end of the year, it is traditional to eat some ollie bollen (Dutch doughnuts). Every year in December you will find ollie bollen stands near major supermarkets and bakeries. It is adopted from The Netherlands and it is a classic dessert for the holiday season. You can have it with powdered sugar and/or some raisins. 

For drinks, it is customary to enjoy some Ponche Crema. This drink is our traditional version of eggnog, it has a similar taste and it has rum added to it. 

It is also a tradition to drive around the island and see many Christmas lights decorations from locals all around the island. 

The most popular spot to see some creative lights decoration is in Cas di Luz (which means House of Lights) in Seroe Preto, San Nicolas. It is customary to take pictures of the lights with friends and family. 

At the end of the year, fireworks usually start in the last week of December and finish until the first week of January.

Since fireworks are quite dangerous, accidents may happen therefore if you would like to enjoy a show, it is wise to sign up for an event with professionals that handle fireworks.

You will lessen the damage to our environment. 

Many companies offer a special show for their guests; however, we have decided to stop doing fireworks like "pagara" because of their negative effects on the environment and respect for the animals.

It is a custom to wish everyone a happy holiday when you see them. You can say “Bon Pasco!” which means Merry Christmas or “Bon Anja!” which means Happy New Year.