Fa La La La La (and snort boom burp!)As Christmas approaches so does the Christmas music and x-mas traditions. Dominican love to copy Los Americanos (the Americans) and Christmas traditions are no exception, as usual though Dominicans have their own take on things. And so, the birth of Dominican Christmas caroling.

I’m sure everyone can picture it from the movies, a group of people bundled up, walking through the snow and stopping at houses to sing a song and spread “x-mas cheer”. Well, the Dominican version does include a group of people and stopping at houses, but the similarity pretty much ends there.

The traditional Dominican Caroling starts around the 15th of December (when school lets out for a couple weeks) and continues every night through the end of the year. It consists of a group of kids 7 – 20 years old with drums, and other percussion instruments (sometimes just sticks and pots) going from house to house usually singing just one song. While I have a hard time understanding the words exactly they are something to the effect of “give us money or we will continue to scream outside your house until you do”. If at the end of the song you haven’t yet got the point and given them some money so they will go away, they start screaming that same phrase over and over until you do (and yes that is really what they yell).

I do have to give at least one kid in our local group credit for having pretty good rhythm and is pretty good with his drum (the two sided barrel style with skins on both sides). Unfortunately most of the rest of them are just looking for a good excuse to beat on something with their sticks, this includes trash cans, walls, our metal window shutters, cats, dogs, (other kids) etc.

Resisting Temptations

Often the locals will give into the temptation to pay them as soon as they reach the house to they will move on, usually just a few pesos and not the requested “quarto” (25 peso coin). Unfortunately, this just encourages them and they will then be sure to visit your house every night sometimes multiple times per night to see if they can get more money. We have found that it is usually better to just ignore them, after they repeat their song once or twice they usually get bored and move on and are a little less likely to waste their time in front of your house in future nights.

The Dominican version of caroling also leads to other temptations. Each night the carolers start about 9:00 to 9:30 and they continue on until 2:00 to 3:00 in the morning, sometimes later. Most of the kids live in our area so after passing by us in the beginning of their journey, we hear them fade off over the course of the night, later as they start heading back home the “music” gets louder and louder until they pass by and give up some time after 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. This leads to the temptation to derive a little of our own entertainment from the nightly ritual.

Over the years our family has discussed many entertaining ways to deal with the problem. Most of them have centered on either “paintball guns” or water balloons filled with various substances depending on how annoyed we are at the time. My wife, being the sweet person that she is, usually chooses water in the balloons as the liquid of choice for her imagined bombardments; while my sons and I have a tendency to drift toward more “obnoxious” substances to fill our dream water balloons.

Dominican X-Mas caroling. Well, I guess this just gives us a good time to work on some of those “Fruitages of the Spirit” mentioned in Gal 5:22. love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and o yes, self-control.