Nochebuena is a Spanish word referring to the night of Christmas Eve[1] and celebrated on December 24 every year.[2] For Latin American cultures, it is often the biggest feast for the Christmas season and is the annual Spanish tradition. Nochebuena (literally "the Good Night") is the Spanish word for Christmas Eve.[3] In Spain, Latin America, and the Philippines, the evening consists of a traditional family dinner. Roasted pig, or lechón is often the center of Nochebuena for feasts around the world.[4] It is believed that the tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them with a powerful flame.[5]




  • In Spain, Nochebuena includes a dinner with family and friends. It is particularly common to start the meal with a seafood dish, followed by a bowl of hot homemade soup, and lamb or roasted pig. It is also common to have desserts such as turrón.

North America[edit]

  • In Cuban and Cuban-Floridian tradition, the pig is sometimes cooked in a Caja China, a large box where an entire pig is placed below hot coals.[7] The dinner features many side dishes and desserts, and often games of dominoes are played. The tradition is continued by Cuban families in Florida and the United States.[8]
  • In New Mexico, la Nochebuena is celebrated by lighting luminarias and farolitos.

South America[edit]

  • Nochebuena is also celebrated on Christmas Eve with La Sangre de Navidad, and marks the final evening of the Posadas celebrations,[9] in others a dinner is served with the family usually after attended the late Mass known as Misa de Gallo.
  • In Peru, a large, juicy turkey is the star for Noche Buena.[10]
  • In Venezuela, hallacas are normally the staple dish for Noche Buena alongside of either ham or pork leg known as "pernil", panettone, rum and "Ponche Crema" (a form of alcoholic eggnog). The night is usually accompanied by traditional Christmas music known as "aguinaldos;" in Venezuela, the traditional music is known as joropo.[11]

In popular culture[edit]

The 2016 Elena of Avalor season one episode, "Navidad", focused on Nochebuena.[12][13] As part of its special "Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure," Dora the Explorer featured a song titled "Nochebuena" regarding the celebration on the musical album for the special.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ortega, Pedro Ribera, Christmas in old Santa Fe Sunstone Press, 1973
  2. ^ Puerto Rican Christmas Traditions. El Boricua. 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  3. ^ Nochebuena: Most Latinos start celebrating Christmas on December 24 The Denver Post. Roxana Soto. 21 December 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  4. ^ For some Latino families, Christmas comes a day early The Los Angeles Times. Hector Becerra. 19 December. People really like to celebrate this holiday because it brings families together and allows families to spend quality time together. 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  5. ^ Nochebuena: Celebrations Start on Dec 24 in Latin-American Households Latin Post. Nicole Akoukou. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  6. ^ Hungry holidays: The Filipino Noche Buena GMA News Online. Cristina Tantenco. 22 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  7. ^ Cordle, Ina Paiva, On Nochebuena, many in South Florida will be roasting a pig in a “caja china” The Miami Herald, 23 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013
  8. ^ Families Gather For Traditional "Noche Buena" CBS Miami. 24 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  9. ^ For some Latino families, Christmas comes a day early The Los Angeles Times. Hector Becerra. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  10. ^ Noche Buena Traditions Living in Peru. Diana P. Alano. Retrieved 5 May 2014
  11. ^ [1] Venezuela Folklore and Traditions. Venezuelan Embassy to the United States. Retrieved 25 December 2014
  12. ^ "Watch Elena of Avalor TV Show - Disney Junior on DisneyNOW".
  13. ^ "Navidad". 26 November 2016 – via
  14. ^ "Shazam". Shazam.