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When people think of the holiday season, chances are they imagine snow, cold weather, and curling up in front of the fireplace.
Here in Aruba, we do things a bit differently.
If there’s something we love here in Aruba, it’s decorating for the holidays. Toward the end of October, the local holiday television programs start broadcasting and the stores put out their lights, garlands, and ornaments.
The community doesn’t just deck out their homes for the holidays, you can also find some really neat decorations around the island. There is even an official self-guided holiday decorations tour available this December, it’s called “Ban Wak Luz” which means ‘let’s go see the lights’ in our local language, Papiamento. If you’re on the island, you can use this handy map to locate all the prominent festive decoration.
A real draw is the “Cas di Luz” (#15 on the map) in San Nicolas, a property decorated with thousands of lights and Christmas themed ornaments. A great backdrop for you holiday themed vacation photos!
You can also use this Google Map to easily navigate all the sights.
As many of you already know, there are people of over 90 different nationalities living in Aruba.
Aruba’s multicultural nature becomes very clear when considering our holiday cuisine. And boy do we eat during the holidays! From roasted turkey and glazed ham to “ayacas”, “keeshi yena”, almond filled pastries, and something we call “oliebollen”. It’s a Dutch treat that translates directly to oil balls, while that doesn’t sound very appetizing, I promise it’s delicious. Think of it as a giant doughnut hole lightly dusted with powdered sugar, yum!
Arubans enjoy an array of delicious holiday foods throughout the season. If you would like a taste of what the locals eat, be sure to check your favorite local restaurants for a holiday menu and let your taste buds go for a sleigh ride!
We can’t really build snowmen here, but that’s ok! We build sandcastles instead. It’s a popular activity among locals to go to the beach on boxing day, December 26, only to return home and snack on leftovers.
As New Year’s Eve approaches, Aruba will be engulfed in the traditional sounds of “Dande”. Dande is performed by groups of traveling musicians calling blessings upon local families for prosperity in the new year through song. There is even a competition of who gives the best Dande performance called the Dande Festival. The atmosphere is always very festive! Here’s a preview of what a Dande perfomance is like:
On New Year’s Eve, families and local business gather and invite guests for the lighting of the “pagara”. A long string of firecrackers is laid out on the street in front of a business or residence and is lit. Traditionally, the popping of the pagara is meant to get rid of bad vibes and evil spirits to start fresh in the new year.
There is so much more to celebrating the holidays in Aruba that wasn’t mentioned here. If you’re on island during the holidays, have a great time. If not, I recommend you try to visit next next year! Escape the chilly weather and celebrate the holidays with us in Aruba!
Holidays, Christmas, New Year, New Year's Day, New Years Day, Dande, Pagara