Saturday celebration

The Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County is pleased to present “A Celebration of Puerto Rican Traditions” on Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.

Youth and family activities will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. and traditional music will be presented from 7 to 11 p.m. The celebration will be held at the Clarion Hotel, Marina and Conference Center, at 30 Lake Shore Drive East, Dunkirk.

Guests will be treated to a sampling of traditional Puerto Rican music, dance, folk arts, family activities and food. Solos by traditional musicians Jose Claudio and Orlando Santiago, as well as performances by “Grupo Escencia,” a traditional Puerto Rican orchestra, will mark some of the high points of the night. “Piel K-Nela,” a popular music female singing trio, will accompany Jose Claudio.

In addition to this, the children of the Boys & Girls Club will perform by singing some traditional Puerto Rican folk songs, as taught to them by Lillian Adujar. The event is free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.


Puerto Rican folk music is part of the legacy of the jibaro, originating in the Andalusia region of Spain. The folk songs and romantic ballads of 18th and 19th century Spain provided the basis for several musical traditions that developed throughout Puerto Rico’s colonial period. In time, these folk songs merged with music either introduced or native to the Hispanic New World. The decima is the core of jibaro or country music. Origina-ting in Southern Spain, jibaro is perhaps the earliest example of the combination of native rhythms to the lyrics and tunes of Spanish music. The heart of Puerto Rican music is the idea of improvisation in both music and lyrics, in which one performer responds to another. Two of the most common song types based on the dulcima are the “aguinaldo” and the “seis.” “Seis,” literally means “six.”


During the Puerto Rican Christmas season, Parran-das, a group of family, friends or neighbors sing and play “Aguinaldos,” going from house to house. The parranderos gather to surprise their friend. Most parranderos play some sort of instrument, either guitarras, tamboriles, maracas or palitos. Everyone sings.

Though parranda is not typically religious, many of the traditional aguinaldos keep the holiday spirit alive. The parranderos arrive at their destination and very quietly gather by the front door. At a signal, all start playing their instruments and sing.

The parrandas usually begin after 10 p.m. in order to surprise and wake the sleeping friend. The parranderos are invited in and refreshments, music and dance follow. Plenty of “hints” are given by the homeowner so the parranderos know he is ready to receive them. The party goes on for an hour or two, then everyone, including the owners of the house, leave to parrandear some more. The group grows as it visits several houses during that night.

At the last house, probably around 3 or 4 in the morning, the homeowner offers the traditional chicken soup or asopao de pollo.

The party is over at dawn. Puerto Rican Christmas celebrations begin very early in December and can continue into the middle of January if you consider the “octavas and octavitas.” The big Christmas celebrations are: Dec. 24 – Nochebuena; Dec. 25 – Navidad; Dec. 31 – Despedida de Ano; and the biggest and most important of all for the children, of course, el Dia de Reyes on Jan. 6.

The “Celebration of Puerto Rican Traditions” is made possible by sponsorships from: NYSCA (New York State Council on the Arts); Seneca Nation of Indians; United Arts Ap-peal; Clarion Hotel, Marina, and Conference Center; Goya Foods Inc.; Alma Mex Latino Restaurant; Tops Friendly Markets; Mc-Donald’s Restaurant; North-ern Chautauqua Community Foundation; the OBSERVER; Panorama Hispano; Chadwick Bay Broadcasting Corp.; WDOE 1410 AM; and 96 KIX FM.