Why Noche Buena is important to Latinos

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readDec 20, 2021
Tamales are the best thing to unwrap on Noche Buena.

Whenever Christmas is around the corner, I think of my abuelos and how the tios and primos gathered around at their place for this important holiday.

We got together at nana and tata’s house not just because their house was big enough to host us. We did it because it was the warmest, the homiest, the most loving, and the yummiest.

We all have houses. Some are in town in neighborhoods surrounded by other homes and parks. Others are in cities next to big buildings and businesses. And then there is nana and tata’s house where what matters is on the inside not on the outside.

Christmas, and especially la Noche Buena, is extra special when you have a nana and tata to welcome you, feed you, and make you feel like you are the most important person in the world. I was named after one of my abuelos and it always felt good to think that when we were in the same room there were two Abes talking to each other and learning from each other. I always felt a special connection because of our common name.

On the morning of Noche Buena, the abuelo’s casa begins to fill with the aromas of the holidays. Tamales, menudo, and toasted bread. Cafecito and freshly baked cookies. It’s hard to resist going straight for the serving bowl when you first walk through the door.

Before you make it to the kitchen, you have to say your hellos and give your hugs to all those family members you wish you could see more often but that you usually only see on days like this. There are primos that you grow up with and have now gone their separate ways, and there are primos you are just now meeting. There are tios and tias you remember from your childhood. There are new amigos and old ones too.

Your abuela is the one to give you the biggest and longest hug. Her welcome makes you feel like a celebrity. She comments on how you’ve grown and asks why you haven’t called more often.

Somehow, the place is big enough to have more people than you felt you’ve seen in a good while. Family members are sitting on living room couches and on the floor. Tios are in the backyard holding a…

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting things. I write about them and what makes them interesting.