Nochebuena, Christmas Eve in Hispanic Cultures

Dec 15 2017, 11:01 pm in

Nochebuena, Christmas Eve, in most Hispanic cultures is a loud joyful celebration filled with festive music and lots of traditional food.  In pre-Castro Cuba Nochebuena had been a religious celebration, and after the evening’s festivities most people attended mid-night mass. Many in South Florida and other Hispanic communities around the world still continue this tradition.

     Family and friends gather, dancing to the music that blares all night long.  The ‘lechon’, or roast pig, is the mainstay of the meal, or for smaller celebrations, a ‘pernil’, roast pork leg.   






Some men who prefer to play dominos, sit someplace away from the crowd, trying to avoid being toppled by hordes of children running in every direction.

The aromas of black beans and rice, yucacon mojo, tostones, and sometimes stewed guinea hens, along with the roasted pork, intoxicate the celebrants.



A tray of turrones, a sweet nougat confection somehow gets devoured for dessert.




Olga’s Black Beans

This is how she gave it to me, I’ve shown my adjustments.

1 pound of black beans

10 cups of water (With good Goya beans, I use about 6 cups and add water as needed. 10 cups can be too much)

1 large green bell pepper (cut in half)


2/3 cup of olive oil (I use about ¼ cup, but you can adjust to your liking)

1 large green bell pepper (chopped but I leave this one out)

1 large onion (chopped)

4 garlic cloves (chopped)

1 ½ to 2 teaspoons salt (adjust at the end) 1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons sugar (I use one)

½ cup dry sherry (I use ¼ or you can leave this out)

(I add ½ teaspoon of cumin))

Wash the beans and place in the water in a pot with one bell pepper cut in half. Soak over night.

Cook beans 1 – 2 hours until they are soft.

Sauté onions (and second bell pepper if you use it), garlic until soft. Mash this all together, add 1 cup of the black beans and mash together until soft (I use a food processor or blender, adding some of the broth to this – it is to naturally thicken the beans). Add this mixture to the rest of the beans. (At this point, I remove the first green pepper that soaked with the beans and has cooked with them.) Add salt, pepper, bay leaf, and sugar. Cook for about 1 hour. Add the dry sherry, cook for about 1 more hour or until the beans are thick.



Linda Ramirez has always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until the age of 58 she self-published her first book, “Big Sky Siren”. Her second book, “Big Sky Allure” is with an editor waiting on it’s fate.  You can find her book, Big Sky Siren, here


7 responses to “Nochebuena, Christmas Eve in Hispanic Cultures”

  1. Christine Evans says:

    Thank you Linda! I love the candies and Black Beans!

  2. rhenuber says:

    Thanks for sharing Linda. You memories are similiar to some of mine. Love Torrone. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Linda Ramirez says:

      Thank you Rita. Each of the families matriarchs were known for their specialty. My mother in laws was Black Beans. The only problem was she didn’t use measuring spoons, so after she gave me the recipe, I discovered her tiny hand did not equal the same as a measuring spoon.

  3. Alyssa Henderson says:

    Thanks so much for sharing Linda!! It sounds delicious 😊

    • Linda Ramirez says:

      Thank you Alyssa. My mil was known for her black beans, but she used her hand for measurements, a reason I had to adjust salt and sugar. Also, today peppers are larger, which makes the flavor too strong, for years I used two peppers, but now I use one.

  4. Rebekah says:

    Oh that sounds so good! Thank you for sharing your recipe Linda!

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