Opening Christmas Presents Christmas Eve — Hispanic Tradition

Text: “We open our Christmas presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day. It’s a hispanic thing. I don’t know why we do it that way, I just know, like, every Hispanic person does that. We’ve always done that—We do Christmas even with my closer extended family. When I was little we would open them at midnight, but now we do it at 7 or 8 pm.” 

Context: The informant was born and raised in Chino Hills, CA, but her mom is from Bolivia and her dad’s family is Cuban/Columbian, though he was born and raised in America. Her Hispanic roots are strong on both sides and she grew up partaking in a lot of Hispanic traditions, one of which being opening Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve rather Christmas Day. Spanish was her first language, and her parents are still very connected to their Spanish roots as well. The informant grew up in the Christian church.  

Analysis: Given that when Spaniards came to America, they brought with them Catholicism and Catholic practices, this tradition makes a lot of sense. I believe that because Catholic people see December 25 as Jesus’ birthday, it’s only natural the festivities would begin around midnight in celebration. Religion has long been very important and influential in Spanish culture. I believe that this is why the tradition is still carried on, and why it is so deeply a Hispanic tradition.