A Dominican Youth Explains Why “Christmas is a time to be grateful"

Christmas customs vary from one country to another, but the love and sense of belonging felt by one 14-year-old boy is common for children in the NPH family.
December 11, 2019 - Dominican Republic

"I love sharing Christmas with my brothers," says Roberto.

Christmas. It’s a beautiful time of year: exchanging gifts, eating and drinking, standing arm and arm with those who love and cherish us with a feeling that bonds us around the world. Yet, the customs and traditions differ from country to country and from one NPH home to another.

In the Dominican Republic, the spirit of Christmas slowly creeps in when autumn breezes begin to bring a chill to the air. By the end of October, Christmas songs and carols can be heard on the radio.

Like in other countries, the Nativity is prevalent in many households throughout the Dominican Republic to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Little figures made of clay representing the Christ child, the manger, the Virgin Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the donkey, which can be purchased in nearly every store throughout the country.

One party follows another throughout the month of December among friends and family. Pasteles de Hoja are shared for Christmas dinner on the 24th of December and celebrations continue long into the night. December 25th is spent exchanging gifts and taking advantage of more quality time with friends and family.

It isn’t long before Dominicans are partying yet again, as the New Year is also a time for rejoicing and expressing wishes for the coming year.

With NPH Dominican Republic being a large and loving family, the holiday season is an important time throughout the home. Employees do their best to make Christmas special. Christmas dinner consists of yellow rice, roast chicken, roast pork, salads, and fruits.

Roberto, a 14-year-old boy who has been living at NPH for four years, says, “Christmas is my favorite time of year. NPH comes alive with songs, food, and gifts.”

Roberto’s life prior to joining the NPH family was complicated. He would often have to go out into the streets to beg for money to support himself and his brothers since both his parents were sick.

“We didn’t really celebrate Christmas at home. My parents couldn’t afford it. They might buy us clothes sometimes but that was it,” Roberto explains.

Roberto is a very intelligent well-mannered child who stands out for his willingness to collaborate. He has two brothers with him at NPH, one of whom has special needs. When they arrived at NPH, their whole outlook on Christmas changed: they finally had the opportunity to celebrate it. Roberto tells us that he no longer feels it is just him and his brothers at the home; they now form part of a big family.

“There are many activities, like dance competitions between the different homes. On the 25th, we celebrate with piñatas full of sweets and we receive gifts,” he tells us.

“I love December 31st because everyone gathers around the campfire and sings and dances until 12 at night when we come together and welcome the New Year in happiness with the family.”

His favorite Christmas moment is Día de Reyes, or Kings Day, on January 6 when the children receive their toys and the NPH family goes shopping in the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo.

For Roberto, Christmas is now a time of sharing and joy—a big difference from before, although he never forgets his biological family and how they did their best to support him.

“Christmas is a time to be grateful for what we have and enjoy time with those we love most. We are a great family! All this wouldn’t happen without the support of many people.”

Interested in supporting children like Roberto and his family? Visit your local NPH office to find out how you can help.

Children's names have been changed to protect their identity.

Alba Pérez   
Communications Officer

You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson




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