7 junio, 2024

25 Traditions and Customs of Venezuela

The traditions and customs of Venezuela They are closely linked to the practice of the Catholic religion, both the festivities and other customs. Among them, the vassals of Candelaria, the monkey dance, Holy Week, the Christmas bonus masses, the Margarita entertainment, among others that I will explain below, stand out.

Traditions define, in part, the culture of a country or a population where everyone can participate in their expression and common feeling. In the same way that it happens in other South American countries such as Colombia.

Each region of the country has innumerable traditions that have endured over time. Some of the most important Venezuelan traditions and customs are described below.

List of the most widespread Venezuelan traditions

1- Paradura of the child Jesus

The term «Paradura» refers to standing up the image of the baby Jesus in the manger. This tradition of the Venezuelan Andes consists of several parts:

In the first place, the «godparents» of the child are designated, who are in charge of carrying the image in a procession, animated with songs of partying or prayers in the so-called Walk either Serenade of the Child. When the image is returned in procession to the manger, the participants kiss the child.

Once this is done, the paradura itself, culminating the celebration with songs, prayers, toasts and the recitation of the rosary.

A variant of the tradition is to carry out The Search for the Child, in which the theft of the image is “organized”, which is taken to a neighboring house while a procession made up of children is in charge of asking each family questions. Meanwhile they sing Wakes for the Lost Child until finally it is found and put in its place.

2- Shepherds of the baby Jesus

In Venezuela it is very common to make «promises» to God in exchange for receiving some special favor. The dance of Los Pastores del niño Jesús is one of the customs that serve as a means to “pay promises”. In addition to being an activity that confirms the identity of the regions where it is carried out.

It is a tradition that is most deeply rooted in the towns of San Joaquín, Los Teques and El Limón, in the center of the country, and consists of several phases.

The first occurs when the group of Pastors, dressed in colorful costumes, walk towards the church at the end of midnight mass and receive the message from the Angel Gabriel (who is represented by a girl) announcing the birth of Jesus.

In response, the shepherds greet the Child and begin the choreography with The Dance of the Shepherds or the Deliver in which they give their offerings on their knees and say verses related to their promises. At the end, the Cachero (group leader) hands over the horns from his suit that indicate his rank.

3- Dancing devils of Yare

The Brotherhood of the Blessed Sacrament of the dancing devils of Yare is one of the most emblematic cultural organizations in Venezuela. It was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2012.

Originated in San Francisco de Yare in 1749, it is a representation of the fight between good and evil and takes place on the day of the Catholic celebration of Corpus Christi.

A group of adults, young people and children, who are permanent members of the brotherhood, dressed in entirely red costumes and devil masks with horns in different numbers (which indicates the hierarchy of the one who wears it), dance backwards as a symbol of penance.

The act ends with the triumph of good, represented by God in the Eucharist, over evil, represented by the devils who fall exhausted.

4- Devils of Chuao

The Chuao devils, like the Yare devils and the other 9 Brotherhoods (perhaps more) that exist in the country, practice the same ritual mentioned above, but with some variations.

For example, instead of red, the Yare devils wear multicolored clothes. The masks are black with white and red silhouettes and have a ribbon with the colors of the Venezuelan flag between the horns.

Also, hierarchies are represented by the length of the mask’s mustache or beard. This brotherhood, which has more than 300 years of history, is one of the cultural and tourist attractions of the town of Chuao, located on the central coast of the country.

5- Carnival of El Callao

Recently inscribed on the list of traditions that are Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, the Callao Carnival is one of the most far-reaching manifestations in Venezuela.

Grand and colorful parades of thousands of people dressed in costumes that can vary according to the imagination take place in the streets of the Guiana town, where the famous calypso, a typical musical genre of the region, is heard.

Some of the costumes are constant characters in each presentation, such as the madams who guide the parade, the mediopintosthe miners and the Devils.

6- The zaragozas

It is an original tradition of the town of Sanare, in the State of Lara. It is based on the cult of the innocent saints, the child martyrs who were killed by Herod in his attempt to get rid of the newborn messiah, the baby Jesus.

The celebration begins with the rite called The breaking which consists of the prayer of the salve in front of a painting that represents the scene of the slaughter.

Immediately afterwards they go through the streets (accompanied by music) near the church where the mass will be celebrated. At the end, a group of children from the area who have been the object of some miracle) are handed over by their parents to the group so that they can offer them a dance in front of the altar.

A new tour takes place to the church of Santa Ana to start a second mass and again the dance for the children.

7- The Burriquita

La Burriquita is a well-known dance troupe that has spread throughout the country. In it, a woman dresses in a suit whose lower part pretends to be a donkey, while she dances to the musical accompaniment.

It is one of the most popular amusements in Venezuela and is observed during the carnivals or festivals of each region.

8- Vassals of the Candelaria

It is celebrated in the parish, state of Mérida between February 2 and 3 in honor of the Virgen de la Candelaria.

It begins with the blessing of the Candelaria fire during mass, followed by the procession through the town with the Virgin to return to the church again.

Before the image placed on its altar and from the door, the vassals sing verses dedicated to the Virgin and dance a choreography inspired by the work of the peasant.

The next day, the Vassals take the image to the zone of its apparition called zumba, in the middle of a procession with music. Upon arrival at the place, an exclusive mass for the Vassals takes place.

After dancing for the second time, they return to the parish and the house of the captain of the Vasallos performs the Stick Dance. Finally, start with The Burial of the Roostera traditional game.

9- The monkey dance

This festival takes place in the town of Caicara de Maturín, in eastern Venezuela. It is celebrated on December 28 and it is a collective dance, in which all the people who wish to participate wearing different costumes.

They tour the town under the guidance of the Monkey and The Butlerwho are in charge of putting discipline to the choreography by hitting the dancers who get out of line with a belt or a kind of machete.

10- Holy Week: Procession of the Nazarene of San Pablo

A great epidemic of bubonic plague that hit the city of Caracas in 1579 gave rise to this procession, which was devised as a way of asking God for the cessation of the spread of the disease.

During the tour of the image of the Nazarene, it became entangled with a lemon tree, causing several of its fruits to fall. Interpreting this as a divine sign, the attendees gave the juice to the sick, receiving the miracle of healing.

Since then, massive processions have accompanied the Nazarene to the Basilica of Santa Teresa. Many faithful pay their promises for favors granted, showing a deep popular devotion that extends throughout the country.

Even this miracle was a source of inspiration for the Venezuelan poet Andrés Eloy Blanco, who in his work «El Lemonero del Señor» expresses:

“…

At the corner of Miracielos

there was a brief oscillation;

the bearers of the litter

they stopped; Mgr

the Archbishop raised his eyes

towards the Cross; the cross of God,

passing under the lemon tree,

between its segments it became entangled.

On the forehead of the Messiah

there was a rebound of greenery

and between her curls the gold trembled

seasoning yellow

From the depths of courtship

the arrow of a voice departed:

-Miracle…! It is balm, Christians!

the lemon tree of the Lord…! “

11- Visit to the 7 Temples

This Catholic tradition is performed from the night of Holy Thursday until the early hours of Friday. 7 churches or temples are visited, which symbolize the 7 places where Jesus was before being crucified, according to the Biblical Scriptures.

It is customary to visit in groups organized by parishes, although it can also be done individually. In some cities there are defined routes for the faithful to go to the temples closest to each other. It is conceived as a moment dedicated to prayer and penance.

12- The burning of Judas

This custom of Easter Sunday is mistakenly associated with Catholicism but it is rather an expression of popular justice.

Dolls are usually created (in any town in the country) that represent a character, generally from the political sphere, who is considered a «traitor», who is chosen from among the neighbors according to each era and region. The doll is mocked and later burned in a public place.

13- Procession of the Divine Shepherdess

Millions of people from all regions of the country move to Lara state on January 14 to participate in the 3rd largest procession in the world, which runs 7.5 km from the church of Santa Rosa to the Cathedral.

It is said that the image of the Virgen de la Divina Pastora was commissioned from an artist and would be destined for the church in the state capital, Barquisimeto. For its part, an image of the Immaculate Conception would be sent to the church of Santa Rosa.

However, the artist mistakenly exchanged places and when the priest of Santa Rosa noticed and tried to return it, the image became very heavy and could not be lifted. This faith fact taken as a sign that the Virgin should stay there.

14- Masses for Christmas bonuses and posadas

Venezuela, along with the Philippines and the Canary Islands are the only places where it is allowed (with permission from the Vatican) to celebrate 9 masses on each of the days before Christmas, which symbolize the 9 months of pregnancy of the Virgin Mary.

They are normally celebrated in the early hours of the morning and within it songs inspired by the upcoming birth of the Child God are sung -aguinaldos- accompanied by typical instruments of the partying such as four, maracas, drum, furruco, among others.

After the mass, in some towns the tradition of carrying the images is preserved…

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