Souvenirs from Puerto Rico
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has a distinct Spanish influence throughout its culture, reflected in its arts and crafts tradition. Santos are religious statues carved from clay, wood stone or precious metal, depicting various Christian saints and their symbols. Created since the 1500's, santos are a definitive souvenir from Puerto Rico. Lace making has undergone a significant revival, and this particular form, called mundillos, is only found in Spain and Puerto Rico. Vibrantly colored wood crafts, baskets, and jewelry are other options found in the memorabilia markets, as well as T-shirts, post cards, key chains and magnets emblazoned with images of tropical scenery. Those seeking a tastier memento of the beach may want to stock up on rum. This hard liquor, based on sugar cane, is a traditional Puerto Rican souvenir and ideal for executive gifts. It is also made into rum cakes and candies, simplifying your packing worries.
The Caretas of Puerto Rico
The craftsmen of Puerto Rico are respected for their artistic methods, and none more than caretas. Made of paper maiche, these masks are worn as a part of island carnival celebrations. The vejigantes wander the festival streets wearing the grotesque masks and annoy revelers with amusing antics. Using demon and animal symbolism, the origin of the vejigantes is found in Spanish processions, where they were intended to frighten people into attending church. Horns are a required accessory on the mask, as well as bright colors. If you visit the Festival of Loiza Aldea, you may attend a carnival celebrating the caretas with 4 different characters: the vejigantes, the knights, the elders and the crazy women. The Ponce Festival and Dia de las Mascaras are the other two events that feature vejigantes. These masks are available throughout the year, through purchase from souvenir shops or from the mask makers themselves.