This week I am thinking it would be great for you to learn about some of my favorite Hispanic traditions! Traditions are key to any culture as these are passed from generation to generation. Every culture has so many traditions, I don’t know we could keep count but I will share some of my favorite Hispanic traditions with you!
Piñatas. What kind of party doesn’t have a piñata?! Kids parties, Baptisms, First Communions, holiday parties, Independence Day… I mean any celebration can have a piñata! Of course piñatas are a big deal for the little ones, everyone wants to have a turn and try to crack it open to allow all the goodness to flow. According to many, piñatas originated in Asia and a few others believe it goes back to the Aztecs. All I know is that growing up they were around and they were a big deal! In some countries they are made of clay pots, decorated with ribbons and filled with fruits, toys and candy. In other countries they are made of cardboard, decorated with colored paper, and filled with small toys and candy. Regardless of how it’s made, one thing is for sure: people use a wooden stick, usually decorated with paper, to hit the piñata until it cracks open releasing all the goodies we were waiting for! These days piñatas are “safer” by having a string that can be pulled to release the goodies. Trust me, people have gotten hit with with that freaking stick because, oh yes I almost forgot, you are blindfolded while you are trying to hit the piñata. So one can easily wonder in the wrong direction and hit a person, but hey, that is just part of the game, ha!
Posadas. Some say it started in Mexico and others say Spanish priests brought the tradition as they evangelized the new world. Who knows! What I do know is nothing says Christmas holiday like posadas! And what are posadas you ask? The word “posada” means “inn” and is a religious tradition that takes place in several Hispanic countries. The tradition is for Mary and Joseph to wonder around the streets of the neighborhood/ town that prepared the procession. I mean she is pregnant with Baby Jesus, remember? So she is looking for a place to spend the night. The procession stays at a different house every night for 9 nights which symbolize the 9 months of pregnancy. The posada takes place at night and is accompanied by people signing Christmas carols, and holding candles or lanterns. Usually the home receiving the posada prepares refreshments for those traveling with the posada. This was seriously my favorite thing about the Christmas holiday! You walk with your friends at night, signing, making noise so people know the posada is passing by and they can join, and you get a snack when you get to the house (usually a sandwich and Christmas ponche, a hot drink made with fruit)… aw man, best times! It’s that night chill with Christmas carols… you know Christmas is around the corner. Oh what a joy!
Quinceañeras. Fiesta de quince, Quince Años, Sweet 15. Here’s another one with mixed origins. Some say its origin goes back to the Aztecs as a rite of passage and others say it goes back to the Spanish conquistadors with their evangelize efforts. I just will say… I don’t know. But what is certain that this party became a staple of the Hispanic culture. It was a celebration marking a woman’s passage from childhood to womanhood. Today, is a thanksgiving party in honor of the quinceañera (Oh, yeah that Spanish for 15-year-old in case you needed to know that). Back in the day it was a mass and a party, nothing crazy fancy, yes puffy dress, pastel colors, of course add the dancing, we Latinos here! These days it has gotten a tad bit… extravagant. While a quinceañera is still a thanksgiving celebration, the parties have gotten costly because of the trends to overdo everything. I mean, there is no other way to describe it… it is a tad bit too much in my opinion. I think this tradition has taken a bit of south turn but it is still an important part of our culture. That’s why I got for you this cute picture of a famous novela about two quinceañera friends that like any good novela included a bunch of other drama… clarifying that, ha!
Día de los Muertos. This celebration takes place on November 1 and 2 over most of Latin America. Some countries celebrate on the 1st and others on the 2nd but one things is for sure: it is a celebration. The day of dead might sound like it is full of sadness and mourning, but that is far from the truth. This is the day to celebrate and remember those who have passed on to the next life. Día de los Muertos originated long ago by the Aztec, Toltec and Nahua people. These groups occupied areas that are now parts of Mexico which is why is easy to see why this is such a big party in Mexico. But more than sugar skulls, altars and Catrinas, this celebration is about honoring and remember our loved ones who have passed. One thing that most people do for Día de los Muertos is to decorate the graves of their loved ones and bring them traditional foods. In other places the celebration includes wearing costumes and attending festivals.
Procesiones de Semana Santa. Processions are defined as a group of people moving forward in an orderly fashion, but this definition is short from it. Procesiones of Semana Santa (Holy Week Processions) are a religious tradition that some date back to the XVI Century. Religious fraternities were formed to bring God’s word to those places where there was no church. Initially they would have people play the part of biblical characters but later decided it was better to have still imagines. It later became a bigger symbol of The Passion of Christ and they now take place mainly during Lent season. The portable platforms have significantly grown with the largest homed in Guatemala being over 82 feet long, and needing 140 shoulders (1 shoulder per person to clarify) to carry the 2500 lbs it weighs. Processions are a mix of religious and cultural traditions. Some carry them to honor Christ’s passion, others carry them as an act of penance, and others out of tradition. There is so much beauty in this tradition in my opinion. I love Lent season in Guatemala so much! The processions are an important part of a bigger Lent/Easter Holiday puzzle, and when you add the other traditions we have plus the special food of these holidays, is just perfect!
So there you have it. These are some of our traditions that I highly encourage you to participate if possible. I sure think you will very much enjoy it. ’til next time!
Mama Bear Kim