24 Days of Tradition: Roller Skating to Mass

When most people envision going to church for Christmas, the way they think of to get there usually involves a car, a bus, walking, or maybe biking. But in Venezuela, they spice things up and take to the streets to roller skate to Christmas Mass.

The tradition tends to be localized to the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. Special holiday masses are held from December 16 to 24 every year and each day, crowds take to the street with their roller skates strapped to their feet in order to attend. It’s such a popular custom that the government even closes the streets to motor vehicles at 8 a.m. to make the tradition safe for everyone. If that wasn’t unique enough, legend has it that children tie pieces of string to their toes to dangle outside of their windows. As skaters glide by outside, they give the strings a tug to wake all the children and tell them it’s time to get ready for the day.

No one can really pinpoint when or why the tradition started. However, the most popular belief is that it is the tropical Venezuela’s alternative to sledding. After the days’ Mass ceremonies end, the celebrations continue as well, with people flooding the streets and one another’s homes to eat, dance, sing and be together.

Tomorrow, we’ll move away from a downright toasty area of the world to a drastically more frigid location with a bookish tradition. Read about the other customs we’ve highlighted by clicking the links below:

December 1: Cavalcade of Lights — Toronto

December 2: Hanukkah

December 3: KFC Dinner — Japan

December 4: Spider Web Trees — Ukraine

December 5: Christmas Trees

December 6: Saint Nicholas Day

December 7: Little Candles Day

December 8: Pickle Ornaments