Nochebuena (literally "the Good Night") is a Spanish word referring to the night of Christmas Eve and celebrated on 24 December every year. For Latin American cultures, it is often the biggest feast for the Christmas season. Some regions include a fasting before midnight dinner. In much of Spain, Latin America, Pacific Islands, and the Philippines, the evening consists of a traditional family dinner for the adults.
In Cuba, roasted pig (lechón) is often the center of Nochebuena. It is believed that the tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them with a powerful flame.
In Cuban and Cuban-American tradition, the pig is sometimes cooked in a Caja China, a large box where an entire pig is placed below hot coals. The dinner features many side dishes and desserts, and often games of dominoes are played. The tradition is continued by Cuban families in Florida and the United States. The dinner on the 24th, Christmas Eve itself, is the center of the celebration. That day — it may also be 31 — for many it is important to wear a new piece of clothing, be it a jacket or underwear.
The Cuban family does not have a fixed time for dinner. It is necessary, yes, in most of the Island, to have it as a family, and it is expected to be all at the table to start tasting the frijoles negros dormidos [sleeping black beans] and the arroz blanco desgranado y reluciente [shredded white rice], the yuca con mojo [Cuban side dish made by marinating yuca root (also known as cassava) in garlic, sour orange, and olive oil], the roasted pork or the stuffed or unfilled guanajo that, along with homemade desserts, such as Christmas fritters, and a wide range of sweets in syrup and Spanish nougat. The visit to the archipelago of Pope John Paul II, in 1998, promoted the Cuban State, in a gesture of goodwill, to declare December "25" again as a holiday, which had stopped happening for several decades.
In New Mexico and areas of San Diego, CA, la Nochebuena is celebrated by lighting luminarias and farolitos.
The 2016 Elena of Avalor season one episode, "Navidad", focused on Nochebuena. As part of its special "Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure," Dora the Explorer featured a song titled "Nochebuena" regarding the celebration on the musical album for the special.