This section covers the customs, dances, songs and all the cultural demonstrations of a region or country. In Venezuela, each region has their own dances, like that of Saint Benedict (Trujillo, Mérida and Zulia), the Devils of Yare (Miranda) and the Standing of Baby Jesus (Mérida). Among the Venezuelan crafts, we find clay pots, peasant tapestries, baskets of the Amazon natives, among others.
Saint Benedict/San Benito
Saint Benedict is celebrated with enthusiasm and great collective participation in the western states: Zulia, Trujillo and Mérida. The many devout of that region believe he has many healing powers and also consider him protector of the crops and businesses. The style of the popular festivals of Saint Benedict varies according by town. For example, the Zulians, with their Venezuelan “chimbangueles” drums, they are very greatly animated and excited; but the Andeans express their devotion to Saint Benedict with reserved and solemn way.
In Mucuchies, in the State of Mérida, the festivity of Saint Benedict stands apart from others with the organization of an army of men, women and children that symbolize the combative and warrior spirit of the citizens of Mucuchies. It is a style of celebrating that, according to the oral history, tries to recall the saving apparition of the saint during a battle of the Liberator Army, which led to the victory of the settlers of Mucuchies. Because of this every year on December 29, the gunners and followers of Saint Benedict — with their faces painted of black — come from the settlements of Mocao, Mucumpate, Misintá and Apartaderos, among others. They dress themselves in uniform and carry old firearms. It is a celebration where they mix local history facts with religious elements; the gunpowder has become the central symbol of the tribute to Saint Benedict.
The Devil Dancers / Los Diablos Danzantes
On December 2012, Venezuela’s “Dancing Devils of Corpus Christi” were declared as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In San Antonio de Yare in the coastal state of Miranda, Venezuela, Catholic mass is held each year in honor of the Feast of Corpus Christi in late May or early June, an annual Roman Catholic holiday commemorating the presence of Christ in the Sacrament. As part of the festivities, “Dancing Devils” honor the patron saints and show their devotion to Saint Francis of Paola.
On the eve of Corpus Christi, the members of the confraternity of the Dancing Devils of Yare, both men and women, dress in red clothing and colorful masks. They carry rosaries and palm crosses and approach the Saint Francis of Paola Church to wait for the opening of the main doors and in the presence of the worshippers, they ask for their blessing to begin their rituals.
The devils dance to the music of traditional string and percussion instruments and move through the streets of the town as worshippers carry maracas to ward off evil spirits. At the climax of the celebration the devils kneel and surrender to the Sacrament, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, and they are blessed by the priest.
This religious tradition arrived in 1582, and hence has 400 years of history in Venezuela. In 2002, the Dancing Devils were declared Cultural Patrimony of the Nation, and a decade later, they presented their candidacy to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Standing of Baby Jesus/ Paradura del Niño
One of the symbolic traditions of the Andean Venezuelans is the Standing of Baby Jesus, a celebration that is carried out in the days after Christmas Eve (December 24). This is especially celebrated during the month of January until February 2, the day of “La Candelaria.”
This tradition of Catholic origin celebrates that baby Jesus can now symbolically stand. Usually, it is followed by a promise offered to Baby Jesus or by simple adoration of his figure. The ritual consists of “standing” the baby boy up from the manger and to walk him down the aisle, with the help of one or more pairs of godfathers, a “rezandero,” musicians, singers, devout and invited persons in general.
The music plays a role of first order. Usually the songs, harmonized by two voices, and are accompanied with chord instruments like the violin and the guitar. Among the songs in fashion is that of couplets, love and tenths for the mystical moments, and that of Christmas bonuses and binges for the walk itself.
Today, the celebration of the “Standing” of Baby Jesus has gone beyond the Andean scene and has spread out to different cities of the country. This it mainly because of how attached the Andeans are to this tradition, which they practice and share everywhere they emigrate or move to; and it is also because of how many other people in other regions have accepted this custom, and made it a part of their yearly tradition.
The artistic heritage of Venezuela varies greatly. Architectural works, sculptures, paintings and musical compositions of national artists have left their mark in the cultural history of the country and of the world.
Once the Constitution of 1999 was established, the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has put its energies into promoting the inclusion of local communities and artists in the development of Venezuela’s cultural heritage. For example, the “Corazon Adentro” Cultural Mission (has taken hundreds of art teachers, methodologists and artists to the poorest places of Venezuela.
Also, the Cultural Community Network has deepened the links between the Government and the community in the cultural area.
To know more than the Venezuelan Cultural System, visit the page of the Ministry of People’s Power for Culture.
National Parks/Natural Heritage
Henry Pittier Park is found in the state of Aragua. It is the oldest national park in the country. It was named after Swiss Botanist Henry Pittier, who created the system of national parks in Venezuela. The fauna or wildlife that lives in the park is very rich and diverse. So far, 520 different species or types of birds have been registered, which equals 7% of the birds in the entire world! It is a forest full of clouds that is very, very beautiful.
The Avila National Park is the pride of all who live in Caracas. The Avila gives the eyes of all Caracas residents a nice rest: It is a natural wall that separates Caracas from the coast. It has so many different waterfalls and streams, and is the best place to go for nice, long walks or short adventures. Going up to the Avila by any one of its roads is definitely the best way to let go of stress.
Canaima is located in the state Bolivar and you can only get there by air. The magnificent National Park is made up of the Canaima Lagoon, impressive waterfalls and a spectacular jungle landscape. This National Park also features Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world. Its waters drop 980 meters (as high as a 245-foot building), from the highest mountain to the jungle’s bottom; 800 of those meters fall free.
The Sierra Nevada National Park is in the state Mérida. It is nestled in the heart of the Mountain Range of the Andes, and occupies 276,446 hectares. There you can find the highest peaks of Venezuela, with the Bolivar Peak (5,007 m), the Humboldt Peaks (4,920 m), Bondpland (4,942 m), the Seashell (4,920 m), the Bull (4,755 m) and the Lion (4,740 m), with the long and highest cable railway of the world and a cloudy jungle of amazing beauty.
The National Archipelago Park “Los Roques” (the Rocks) is in the Caribbean Sea, in front of the central coast of Venezuela. You can get to it by plane or by boat. It was established in 1972 with its swarm of islands, small islands and keys. It is a paradise of light and color with tranquil waves, turquoise-blue seas and sandy-white beaches.
The Coro Dunes National Park is found in the Falcon State. It was founded in February 6, 1974. It occupies 91,280 hectares along the isthmus of the dunes. The surface of these mountains of sand is always exposed to the wind, which causes it to constantly change its shape. The park has dunes with an average height of 20 meters above sea level.
Restinga (Shoal) Lagoon National Park is located in the state of New Sparta. From “Boca de Rio” to the population of “El Saco” The Bag, to the north of the peninsula, you can travel all along the western coast. Its environment has different characteristics: dry lands, beaches, lagoon-like zones and marine zones. Its 10,700 hectares, mangrove swamps and birds are plenty.