Aruba – Aruba is a great place for a party and it’s a particularly great place to visit for celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Matthew Smillie, proprietor of the Aruba vacation rentals agency Aruba Villa Vacation Homes, says the island has its unique customs, which make celebrating the holidays a fun experience for visitors.
Christmas celebrations start early, notes the proprietor of the Aruba beach villa agency. Dec. 5 marks the beginning of the official Christmas season with St. Nicholas Day festivities at the Paardenbaai Harbour where local custom says that St. Nicholas first arrived on the island. Later in the month, the island holds a Christmas festival with extended shopping hours at most stores, live entertainment, sales, incentives, special gifts, and raffles. The island’s Main Street is closed to motor vehicle traffic during the festival hours.
San Nicolaas is the second largest city in Aruba, located on the island’s southern side. Local residents on San Nicolaas’s Sero Pretro hill display lavish decorations and Christmas lights. “It’s a beautiful and charming sight,” explains Smillie, owner of an Aruba villa rental agency. “And, if you’re visiting the island on Jan. 6, they hold a huge celebration just before taking down the lights for another year.”
The Arubans elsewhere on the island are no slackers either. Visitors can enjoy incredible displays of colorful lights strung in palm trees, life-size Christmas scenes, and other decorations. Many residents play Christmas music from outside sound speakers all day, even when they’re not home.
Aruba’s New Year’s Day celebration is even more exciting. Celebratory fireworks start as many as five days before Jan. 1 and visitors can be treated to a display on the beach almost every night. In fact, they go on pretty much all day for a couple of days since some residents save up all year to buy spectacular fireworks to set off. “Some people believe that fireworks chase away the bad luck of the old year – and can also welcome in the good luck of the New Year,” explains Smillie, owner of an agency that rents villas in Aruba.
Dande bands are another local tradition. Dandes usually consist of a group of five or six people accompanying a singer and traveling door-to-door to express their best wishes for the New Year. They sing songs with a chorus that always includes the phrase “ai nobe” or “new year.” The dande troupes usually visit the houses of the singers’ friends and family, where the host collects money in his hat to give to the group.
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