La familia, y los tradiciones. Finally, those semesters of Spanish I took earlier in college are finally paying off. The Latino culture is rich, interesting and vastly different than what I grew up with. Most people just think Spring Break in Cabo or going to fast food places such as Chipotle or Qdoba, as immersing themselves in Latino culture. In reality, there is so much more. Sure, both American and Latino culture share some holidays and values but there’s a lot that the general population doesn’t know about the culture of Latinos, whom make up about 17 percent of the American Population, according to the CDC.
So who’s ready for a quick lesson of Latino culture?
First and foremost, Latinos place high value on family. Family comes first. Latinos care for each other, they close to one another and socialize constantly with one another. Extended family is also very important, in a Latino family, you will most likely know your fourth cousin who was twice removed who decides to move next door to you. Early on in their life, a Latino is taught the values of family and respecting authority, such as grandparents and parents.
We’ve all heard the term Feliz Navidad around Christmas time or el día de los Muertos, in autumn. However, does anyone actually know how Latinos celebrate these holidays or what their value is? On November 1st, Latinos observe el día de los Muertos. While this may sound like Halloween, it’s actually a celebration of life and honoring family and friends that have passed away. Many Latinos will create an altar or decorate graves with fruits and flowers. La Navidad, Christmas, has many different aspects. For example, there are las pastorelas, which are plays that portray the story of Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Latino families host la cena de nochebuena, a night filled with food celebrating with family and friends.
¡Feliz cumpleaños! In the Latino culture, when a girl turns 15, she traditionally has a Quiceañera. This celebration marks a girl’s transformation into womanhood. Let me tell you, a Quiceañera blows MTV’S My Super Sweet Sixteen out of the water.
When it comes to food, there is one thing to remember, Latinos love their food spicy and flavorful. I interviewed a great friend of mine about being a Latino and her words are as follows, “it’s something so significant and powerful because of all the traditions and rituals it consists of.” The Latino culture highly values dance and arts as a part of their culture. If you’ve ever been to any sort of Hispanic festival, you will see bright colors and uplifting music. The Latino culture is a culture to be cherished and valued. Their internal values and traditions are some that we can all relate to.
So next time you are invited to a fiesta or a Latino-themed party, remember all the tradition and culture that exists because of that event.
A special thank you to my best friend Andrea Leon for her input and information from Explore Hispanic Culture.