By Etnia Ntiva
At the beginning of December’s nights we live the magic of Pasco in Aruba through fabulous decorations of lights that glows in the streets, being best expressed by the well-known Sero Preto or Black hills dwellings in San Nicolas, but it was not always like that.
Back in the mid-1700s, there was no electricity; however the people of Aruba were waiting for Christmas with excitement and certain traditions. Weeks before Christmas, the Arubans began cleaning and painting their homes. An old custom was also to tie three aloe leaves with a bright red ribbon and hang that amulet over doors and windows to welcome the spirits of peace and harmony in each home. Typical dishes were enjoyed among the family: Christmas ham, ayaca, goat stew, stuffed turkey and olie bollen(a Dutch tradition). They drank chuculati di pinda which is hot milk with peanuts mix and crème punch.
Aruba’s families go to the Aurora Mass to demonstrate their Christian faith. It called ‘Aurora’ because it is celebrated at the dawn of the new day.The blessed dawn, the divine sun light of the East that we waited for has appeared and will no longer be hidden in our lives.
Christmas in Aruba would not be complete without a visit to see the Christmas Lights around the island. By just driving around on the main roads you can enjoy a variety of creativity with colorful lights being displayed on various Aruban homes. Also the majority of the round-abouts are decorated.
If you are lucky enough you might hear Christmas carols and “gaitas” at any of these locations but also at the malls and stores. Gaita is a style of Venezuelan folk music from Maracaibo in Zulia State. It is possibly derived from gaits, the Gothic word for goat, the animal whose skin generally is used for the membrane of the furro instrument (kind of tambura with stick). Other instruments used in gaita include maracas, cuatro, charrasca and tambora (Venezuelan drum). Song themes range from humorous and love songs to protest songs. The local gaita bands are composed mostly of a group of ladies who sing with angelic voices while they dance in a choreographic manner.