DAVIE, FLA. (WSVN) - A tasty tradition was being cooked up across South Florida as families came together to celebrate Nochebuena, but this year’s celebrations looked a bit different for many, as loved ones took some extra safety precautions.

The Exposito family opened their Davie home to 7News on Friday, and their preparations started early.

Cameras showed lechon sizzling in a fire pit. The aroma of roast pork and ripe plantains are just two of the nostalgic smells that are an essential part of Latin American families’ Christmas Eve get-togethers.

Lechon asado is a Dec. 24 staple in many Cuban households. Like other South Florida families, the Expositos use a caja china to make the perfect roast pork.

Agustin Exposito Jr. said his family likes this particular dish old school.

“You’re doing it with coal, you’re doing it with just cinder blocks, you’re just relying on the elements, so just fire and wind,” he said, “making sure you have the right amount of fire, the right amount of heat.”

The process actually began on Wednesday, as Agustin and his brothers began prepping and seasoning the pig.

“Today, earlier in the morning, we set up the pit,” he said.

They dropped in a large amount of of charcoal to get that fire just right.

This is when the caja china comes in.

“While that’s happening, we get the pig up on the table, and we’re wrapping it up in aluminum foil, putting it on the metal grate,” said Agustin.

They then placed the lechon right into the pit.

“We hook up the thermometers and make sure that the pig does not burn,” said Agustin.

It’s more than just a meal. It’s a family tradition passed from one generation to the next.

“My grandfather, who started this tradition here in South Florida after he came from Cuba, these are the same exact bricks that he used at his house,” said Agustin.

His grandfather passed away in 2013, but the family strives to keep the tradition alive.

“Me and my brother my dad, we keep this going every year,” said Agustin.

His father, Agustin Exposito, said Nochebuena has a special significance.

“Nochebuena is our day where we bring the family together. We see the kids, we see the grand kids,” he said.

It’s a special family gathering every year, but in a pandemic year, it offers the Expositos time to pause and reflect.

“It makes you appreciate it, because it really does give me time to adjust, not only hang out by the pit, but really think about all the things that have been going on and be grateful for the things that we do have.,” said Agustin Jr.

“I have my sons, I have my daughters, I have their wives, I have my best friends here, and that’s what’s important to us,” said his father. “I mean, they’re the people that keep it real, the people that call you on a daily basis.”

Due to the pandemic, the Expositos had a smaller Nochebuena gathering.

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