Puerto Rico Gift Giving Customs

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Flag of The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Capital: San Juan

Currency: U.S. Dollar

Language: Spanish and English

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a self-governing republic that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty.

The Land of Enchantment

Considered a crossroads of Anglo and Hispanic culture, Puerto Rico's people and traditions are as colorful as the island itself. Only 100 miles long by 35 miles wide, Puerto Rico sits between the Carribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean - about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, Florida in the U.S.
After its discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1493, a large influx of Spaniards and their African slaves came to the island. The mix of these cultures - including that of its native inhabitants, the Tainos, resulted in the vibrant atmosphere that now exists here. As a result of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States in 1917, and it remains so today. [1]

Gift Giving in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Gift Giving Etiquette

  • Gifts in Puerto Rico are freely given, and unwrapped immediately.
  • It is considered very rude to open gifts in public.
  • Gifts in Puerto Rico are never opened in front of a group of people in order to avoid the comparison of the merits of the different gifts.
  • While it's not common to bring gifts to a business meeting, the gesture would always be welcomed.
  • If offering a gift in a business setting, avoid anything overly expensive.
  • A bottle of wine, flowers, or chocolates are appropriate gifts for a host when invited to a Puerto Rican home.
  • Before guests accept a gift or an invitation to dinner, they will often politely decline the offer a few times before accepting.
  • Avoid excessive admiration of a specific item in someone's home. The host may feel obliged to offer it to you as a gift.

Additional Social Tips

  • The visiting of friends and relatives is considered a social obligation, and it is expected as a basic courtesy.
  • While an invitation is not uncommon, most visits occur in the early evening without prior arrangement.
  • Friends and relatives invited for dinner are expected to stay after the meal to relax and enjoy conversation.
  • Compliments on the hosts’ home, family, cooking, or hospitality are appreciated.
  • Most rules of etiquette in the United States are applicable here as well.[2] [3] [4]

Holiday Traditions and Gift Giving


The Christmas Season and Three Kings Day

The natural festive atmosphere of Puerto Rico reaches a celebratory high point during the holiday season. The many weeks of merriment begin shortly after Thanksgiving in late November when bands of Christmas carolers in colorful costumes, known as "parranderos", surprise people at their homes. The singing doesn't stop until the carolers are invited inside for a party. The homeowners then join the band of singers, and continue on to the next home for more revelry that will last late into the night.

At midnight on Christmas Eve, a large feast is prepared with roast pig, and the traditional Christmas drink known as "coquito" - a coconut milk and rum concoction. This largely Catholic nation reserves Christmas Day as a religious celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Typically, there are no gifts exchanged on this day, but as American culture seeps into that of Puerto Rico's, Santa Claus and Christmas trees are becoming more common here.

Innocents Day is celebrated on December 28th, commemorating the murder of children by Herod with a day of trickery, similar to April Fools Day.[5]

New Year's Eve is celebrated with firecrackers and parties that last until morning. When the clock chimes at midnight, residents here eat one grape with each chime for good luck. A traditional poem, "El Brindis del Bohemio", is always read to start the New Year.[6]

January 5th is when the real excitement starts building. This is the eve of "El Día de Reyes", The Day of Kings. Traditional Catholics meet together with friends and family to pray the rosary and to honor the three wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child. Children here excitedly prepare for the event by gathering freshly cut grass to give to the king's camels - as American children would leave food for Santa's reindeer - in anticipation of the gifts the kings will bring to them. Puerto Rican folklore holds that good children will receive gifts of candy, sweets and toys; but children who have misbehaved will see dirt or charcoal in his box of grass.[7]

The Christmas traditions of Puerto Rico culminate with the Feast of Kings, also known as the Epiphany, on January 6th - and is much like Christmas Day in other countries. Children wake up early to receive their gifts, and friends and family gather together to feast and celebrate.

Related Pages


Welcome to Puerto Rico - Description

A Puerto Rican Christmas


  1. Wikipedia.org - Puerto Rico
  2. Encarta.msn.com - Customs of Puerto Rico
  3. Culturecrossing.net - Puerto Rico
  4. Wikipedia.org - Etiquette in Latin America - Puerto Rico
  5. AllThingsChristmas.com - The Christmas Traditions of Puerto Rico
  6. ElBoricua.com - A Puerto Rican Christmas
  7. Studioporto.com - The Feast of the Three Kings