VENEZUELA

In Venezuela, Christmas is celebrated as a religious occasion. As in Colombia, the presents are brought by “El Niño Jesus” (Baby Jesus) instead of “Papá Noél” (Santa Claus) that still has an important role during this season.
The unofficial start of the Christmas festivities is after the celebrations of “Feria de la Chinita”, the second half of November. The origin of this festival is the cult to Virgin Mary of Chiquinquirá, when various religious activities, processions, and music in the typical “Gaita style” to honor “La Chinita” (nickname of this Virgin). This event takes place in the Zulia Region, specifically in Maracaibo (the regional capital). After this, other cities join in the festivities and many activities take place including musical events and firework displays.

In many cities, small rural towns and neighborhoods get together for the “patinatas” night festivals where children go and play with skateboards, roller blades and bicycles. These events are usually sponsored by the local church, where neighbors organize themselves and sell typical Christmas food, hot chocolate, hallaca, cookies, etc. Also still in some neighborhoods there is the “Parranda” where people go from one house to house with music and Christmas songs. The singers stops at neighbors’ houses to get some food and drinks. Also in the Venezuelan Andes there is the same tradition of this kind of event but they carry an image of “baby Jesus” and this is called “Paradura del Niño.” Children write request letters to Baby Jesus. The presents are sent by Baby Jesus at midnight, and most people have a party, which goes on until sunrise.

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