Culture

Art & Culture

Cultural Background

The people of the Dominican Republic have had numerous influences, predominantly European, African and Taino which makes for unique, interesting and vibrant art forms and culture. In the Dominican Republic, the type of cuisine may be described as comida criolla which takes aspects of Spanish and combines them with African and Taino culinary practices and methods in order to produce Creole dishes. The Dominican diet includes mainly starchy foods such as potatoes, cassava, rice and banana served with stews such as La Bandera (stewed meat served atop white rice with sides such as salads or plantains) , cuchifrito(stew of pork innards) among others.

Other popular meats included in the diet are goat, chicken, beef and fish. Soups such as Mangú (beef tripe soup) or fufu (as called in Africa) is also common along with habichuela con dulche (sweet bean soup with root vegetables). Various spices are also used for taste along with specified preparation methods.

European, African and Taino

Music is an important aspect of Dominican culture influenced mainly by West African customs, European traditions and native Taino practices. Merengue is the dominant form of music played in the Dominican Republic adapted from European dance and afro-Caribbean flare .It is considered the national dance and music of the Dominican Republic as it is used in all major festivals and celebrations and even during religious worship.

Religion

The major religion practiced in the Dominican Republic is Christianity, with a majority of Christians belonging to the Roman Catholic denomination. Other denominations include Seventh Day Adventists, Evangelists, Baptists, Pentecostal, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc which are then mixed with Afro-Caribbean customs. Voodoo, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam are practiced to a lesser extent.

The Carnival

Another noteworthy aspect of Dominican culture is a carnival. Celebrated during the month of February and climaxing on the 27th (Independence Day) and also during Holy Week in March or August, carnival in the Dominican Republic is a sight to behold. Inclusive of colorful costumes which represent different aspects of culture and religion coupled with merengue and bachata blaring in the streets, carnival is enjoyed by both locals and tourists who travel from all over the world to bask in the rich culture and heritage showcased in these carnivals. Another festive period is Christmas.

Beginning in October and ending in January, Christmas is inarguably one of the biggest celebrations in the Dominican Republic filled with family and friends enjoying seasonal dishes, fireworks/ fuegos artificiales, parties, gift exchanges and other festive activities all funded by the Double Sueldo received by citizens, or simply Christmas bonuses.

Museums

All of these aspects of Dominican culture and the various art forms may be observed in any one of the various museums located around the island. These museums document the history of the island and also the history of specific persons who have impacted the island in a major way.

They also include customs and way of lives of the various ethnic groups, origins and other information about the population. Being the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is sure to have a rich culture owing to the multiple influences the region as a whole and the island has had in its history. These influences have shaped the art and culture of the Dominican Republic to what it is today.