Noche Buena (Latinos' Christimas Eve) Survival Guide

Categories: Comedy
Horrified Woman with Pig1.jpg
Eric Dickman via Flickr
Noche Buena is next week, and we're in a bit of a jam. Our date's an atheist and doesn't eat meat. She's worried the pre-meal prayer, and the stench of roast pork escaping La Caja China and clinging to her peacoat will make her feel like an outsider. Still, she insists on experiencing Christmas -- Hialeah-style.

Well, we have a confession, Liberal Anglo princess, even Cultist struggles identifying with our Cuban-American traditions. Ever since we stopped believing in the Immaculate Conception and the traditional sacrifice of helpless swine, Noche Buena has become one big anxiety attack. But we have compromiso, and aside from opposing societal views triggering lively political debates, we welcome our family's quirky Christmas Eve traditions each year with an open mind y una botella de "Yonny Walker." Check out our tips below for surviving Noche Buena.

Smoke a J Before Dinner
First things first. Relax your mind, and free yourself of all unwanted anxiety by sparking up before dinner -- maybe on the car ride to the party (provided somebody else is driving, of course). You'll find it's easier to laugh off indecorous, Glenn Beck-like remarks. Various distant relatives will inevitably talk smack about liberals and the size of Hillary Clinton's alleged pinga. Giggling is better than fighting, right?

Si Quieres Comer, Bring Your Own Food, Vegan
We're not really offended by the sight of a freshly slaughtered animal carcass slow-roasting in our cousin's backyard. In fact, we're rather desensitized to it. But our first year back for Noche Buena in meatless Miami taught us to pack our own dinner, because even the side dishes are meaty. The moros have tocino (bacon), the yuca's main ingredient is pork fat, and the tostones are fried in the same oil as the chicharrones. If you want pig out but keep it cholesterol-free, we suggest Tofurkey, roasted asparagus, and vegan mashed potatoes. Just laugh it off when everyone at the table pokes fun at the vegetarians while pig blood drips down their chins.

Learn to Play Dominoes
At some point in the night--usually after dinner--you'll be asked a rhetorical question: "Quieres jugar domino?" Roughly translated it means, get up, you're playing dominoes with us whether you like it or not. But if you're partnered up with anyone over the age of 40, prepare to have your skills criticized the minute you fuck up and lock the game. Some people take dominoes very seriously.

Brush up on Your Drunk Salsa Dancing
A typical Noche Buena soundtrack is provided by El Sol 95, so hearing your favorite indie Christmas collaborations on a salsa and merengue station is highly unlikely. But dancing to Oscar D'Leon is no different than shaking your shoulders to Best Coast and Wavves -- just shake your hips and ass instead.

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