Noche Buena Traditions: Would You Let Your Toddler Stay Up Past Midnight?
Assuming your toddler could even make it, would you allow them to stay up until midnight to celebrate Noche Buena? In many Latino cultures, Christmas festivities center around the values and traditions of Noche Buena. The literal translation is Good Night, but the term refers to Christmas Eve—a night when family gathers and feast the night away. At the center of the holiday is the practice of staying up until the stroke of midnight. Some families even attend misa de los gallos, which refers to midnight Mass. But would you want your little one up that late?
As a young child, I remember struggling on Noche Buena. With the excitement and promise of new toys only a few hours away, I tried my best to stay awake for the experience. Now, at 3-years-old and after countless stories of how I celebrated Christmas as a little Cuban-American girl, I anticipate my daughter wanting to do the same. And whatever she can do, her 20-month old little brother can do better (at least in his mind!). While I made her a Noche Buena Survival Kit this year, I’m still uncertain if I want her staying up too long after her regular bedtime.
Every year since she was born, we’ve hosted Noche Buena at our home—inviting non-Latino family members, friends from all backgrounds and Cuban family to share in the beauty of my culture. But since we also practice traditions of Christmas morning, the idea of letting my kids stay up to midnight is not ideal.
Without much forethought on the matter, last year’s bicultural holiday season made for a little 2-year-old zombie come Christmas morning. She stayed up well past her regular bedtime of 8 PM on Noche Buena, and had a blast opening presents from family. By 10 AM the next morning, we had to wake our daughter up. She opened presents brought by Santa in a daze and took an early, long nap for most the day.
While there is so much beauty and legacy in following traditions, I think we’re going to have to pass on Noche Buena’s typical timeline while our kids are young. We are very much a bicultural family, and losing out on a Christmas morning experience doesn’t seem like a good trade-off.
Do you celebrate Noche Buena? If so, do you allow your young children to stay up until midnight?
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