Latino communities in South Florida gear up for Christmas Eve, the Cuban way

HIALEAH, Fla. – Many people in the Latin communities across South Florida are getting ready to prepare their holiday feast for the night known as "Nochebuena."

The main course is a fully roasted, perfectly cooked, mouth-watering Christmas pig. "Oh, it's excellent," said Ariel Rodriguez. "Perfect."

Cars were lined up outside of Matadero Cabrera, a shop along 16301 Northwest 122nd Avenue, before the gates even opened on Wednesday. All to pick out their perfect pig.

Nochebuena is a staple in the Cuban community. It's a celebration carried out every year on Christmas Eve, and the pig is the main attraction. "For every Cuban, it's the pig," said Rodriguez. "There's no pig, there's no Nochebuena."

Rodriguez said, there is hours of anticipation that lead up to the moment when the finished product is sprawled out for the taking. "You just watch it for 5 to 6 hours." It's what every guest is waiting for on this special night. Their chance to finally dig in.

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When asked what Nochebuena was all about Ivette Rodriguez said, "Actually having everybody in the table and seeing, you know, the final product, the pig."

While the pig gets most of the attention the cooks in the kitchen stay busy too. The gathering is a time for family to catch up on a year gone by.

"Nochebuena, it's a tradition for Cubans," said Rodriguez. "It's a way of living. We pretty much live for this." They pile their plates high with traditional Cuban fare, a feast that brings families together through every generation. "Something that you learn from your parents, from your grandparents. You know, it's just the tradition," added Rodriguez.

It's a celebration they know will come only once a year. "This is the way to do it. The Cuban way," said Rodriguez.

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