|My host mom making Habichuelas|
La pascua, Easter, is not a big holiday in the DR. Easter, for Dominicans, is the day you drive home after spending a long weekend with family in the countryside or at the beach. Viernes Santo, Good Friday, is the Holy Day of importance for Dominicans.
The week of Viernes Santo is known as Semana Santa, Holy Week. Schools are closed starting the previous Friday and many offices close mid-week to give employees a nice long weekend. Dominicans spend much of their time off making and eating Habichuelas con Dulce, Sweet Beans.
Habichuelas con Dulce is a traditional Dominican dish that is only made during Semana Santa. To do otherwise would just be weird. It would be like making your family’s traditional Christmas cookies in July. It just isn’t done. The dish is like a soup, made from liquified red beans, with bits of batata, a type of sweet potato, balls of flour, raisins, milk, lots of sugar, and an assortment of spices. Since Habichuelas are only made once a year, Dominicans make a lot. My host mom made at least three large batches during the week. Habichuelas are traditionally shared with family and neighbors, again just like christmas cookies. Last week we even got the mayor to meet with us after we promised him Habichuelas.
Good Friday is the typical day when neighbors share Habichuelas. I, however, was not interested in competing against my neighbors in the who has the best Habichuelas competition, mainly because I would loose. Instead I made fudge to give out to my neighbors and invited kids over to enjoy the American tradition of dying Easter eggs.
|Neighbors showing off their eggs|
The kids had a blast dying the eggs, once they wrapped their heads around the idea that people dye eggs. I was reminded of my childhood when some of the kids learned the hard way that putting an egg in all the colors turns it brown - I warned them. Luckily each kid got two eggs. I was slightly disappointed not to see the kids make any voo-doo style eggs. But that is probably just a Stine family tradition.
Next year will be my first Easter in America in four years. I am excited to celebrate with my family, but I know it won’t be complete without a serving of Habichuelas con Dulce.