Dominicans have a reputation for being among the friendliest people you’ll meet. They exude passion–in the way they speak a mile a minute, the way they dress and dance, and in the embrace of their fellow human being, be it, neighbor or visitor. European, Asian, and Middle Eastern communities have influenced and enriched the DR’ culture-scape since the 19th century, turning the population and culture into a fascinating melting pot. You’ll see our numerous influences showing up across regions in food, music, celebrations, and customs.
It won’t take you long to meet locals or notice the Dominican way of living. While modernism and globalization have modified the way of life in the big and small cities, Dominicans remain the same in their people-to-people interactions. Courtesy and hospitality are core values, particularly in the countryside. Coming to the aid of visitors or a neighbor and sharing a plate of food are considered normal. Family is of the utmost importance, to be cared for and cherished. Head to the beach or the river on the weekends, and you will see how Dominicans love to spend their free time with their loved ones, cooking outdoors and sharing jokes. Affectionate in words and action, romance runs in the Dominican’s blood. Life is to be shared and lived fully.
While certain traditions are less practiced in the cities than in the past, the importance of two major seasons remains–particularly in the countryside–and are celebrated in the family: Christmas and Easter.
Each of these holidays represents a symbolic time for Dominicans to head to their respective hometowns and families and spend it around their loved ones, cooking and enjoying traditional dishes, dancing, and relaxing.
Christmastime is one of the most festive times of the year, aside from Carnival in February. Eastertime, the other most extended holiday weekend, is when Dominicans escape their daily routine, much as they do for Christmas. While some head to the beach rather than practice religion, traditions remain: celebrating Semana Santa by going to church on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, but also enjoying copious bowls of habichuela con dulce, a Dominican sweet beans dessert typical at this time of year.
Most Dominicans are Roman Catholic, but there are also other Christian denominations, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Evangelists. Various forms of syncretic religion, an African influence, are still practiced in the countryside. No matter what religion it is, Dominicans are a people of faith with a strong belief in God. You will hear references to that effect in their everyday language.