Dec 08, 2023

“Hallacas” and “Aguinaldos”: The Essence of Venezuelan Christmas Takes Over Prague

For the fifth year in a row, Prague can enjoy holidays with a strong Caribbean and South American accent.

Christmas in Venezuela is a whole congregation of traditions: dozens of dishes and recipes, celebrations throughout the country and an endless musical repertoire of Creole Christmas carols, better known as “Aguinaldos” which of course, include the iconic “Burrito Sabanero” (Little Donkey from the Savannah).

Those who come to the Venezuelan Christmas Market at the Saint Thomas parish on Sunday, December 10th, will be able to taste a lovely sample of this particular way of living Christmas, typical of Venezuelans.

The “hallaca” (big sister of the tamale) is a dish exclusive to Christmas time and deeply connected to Venezuelan identity. Its history and symbolism attest to the colonial past and its ingredients are a melting pot of cultures, races, and regions. Its preparation ritual is on the other hand very emotional, with families gathering for a whole day and dividing different tasks to give shape to a complex dish in process and flavor.

With the Venezuelan migratory crisis of the last decade, in which more than 7 million people have had to leave their country, today hallacas are prepared and eaten in almost every corner of the world.

For their part, the aguinaldos or Creole Christmas carols have a place of honor in the Venezuelan cultural heritage.

The aguinaldos are not only “divine” or of sole adoration to Baby Jesus. Venezuelan wit and spark are also present in Creole Christmas carols with pagan, humorous, and festive touches.

But hallacas and aguinaldos will not be the only things to experience at the Venezuelan Christmas Market. There will also be a “Pastorela”, a theatrical representation by children and allusive to the Bethlehem, or “Pesebre”, a Latin American approach to the tableau of The Nativity.

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After organizing for four years a Venezuelan-style Christmas dinner party, La Casa Venezolana – a non-profit organization – decided in 2023 to work hand in hand with the Parish of St. Thomas of Prague to organize a traditional market where Venezuelan migrants will offer food, drinks, sweets, handicrafts, and typical Venezuelan textiles in small stalls.

All this is open to the public and with free admission, amidst Christmas carols sung live by the Venezuelan music group La Circunstancia. The meeting will take place on Sunday, December 10th between 10 AM and 4 PM in the monastery courtyard of the Church of St. Thomas, in the heart of the Malá Strana.

La Casa Venezolana is a non-profit civil association that aims to rediscover and redefine the Venezuelan identity in the Czech Republic and in this sense they have been organizing activities in recent years: workshops for children and adults, sports tournaments, cultural acts, and awareness activities.

St. Thomas Parish is a reference point for Spanish-speaking Catholics in Prague, and just as this year it is focusing on traditional Venezuelan Christmases, it plans to do the same for other countries in subsequent years.

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