3 Things that Define a Compadre

A baptism creates one of the greatest bonds in Hispanic culture, that of compadres.

If you look up the word “compadre” in the dictionary, you will find two definitions which may seem at odds with each other: a close friend, and the godfather of someone’s child. Sounds confusing? If you know a bit about Hispanic culture, these two definitions make perfect sense.

Since the majority of people in Latin America are Catholic (at least culturally, if not religiously), certain aspects of this Hispanic religion have become such a part of the culture that they transcend the religious context. One of these is the concept of compadrazgo (“co-parenthood”), or the relationship between a parent and the godparents of his or her child.

Compadre: A Commitment for Life

A baptism creates one of the greatest bonds in Hispanic culture, that of compadres.

A baptism creates one of the greatest bonds in Hispanic culture, that of compadres.

For a Catholic family, choosing a godfather (padrino) and godmother (madrino) for their child’s baptism is a very big deal.

The compadrazgo is more than just standing in front of the church on the day of the ceremony, it is a commitment for the life of the child and of the parents.

The words “compadre” (co-father, or the godfather of my child) and “comadre” (co-mother, or the godmother of my child) literally reflect the intention of godparents to assist in raising the child and, should something happen to the parents, to take responsibility for him or her.

Compadres and comadres also are taking on the responsibility of making sure that the child is raised Catholic.

Being a compadre is an honor that is only bestowed on someone that the parents trust, respect, and want to have as part of their lives. This generally means that this person is a close friend; if not, it means that they will become so.

Perhaps most interestingly for a non-Catholic is the fact that at the time of baptism you form two sets of relationships: one between the child and the godparents (padrinos), and one between the two sets of parents (compadres).

This close relationship has since been reflected in the use of compadre to refer to a good friend. You can even use it to refer to the intense friendships that arise between soldiers during war. Eventually, it also has come to be used as a general term for friend, especially amongst Hispanics in the United States.

What Defines a Compadre?

Strong relationship
The compadrazgo is considered one of the closest and most significant bonds in Hispanic culture. In fact, some suggest that the relationship between the parents and godparents is even stronger than that of the godparents and their godchild.

Keep in contact with each other
The word comadrear (from comadre) means “to gossip,” likely due to the godmother and the child’s mother having a close relationship and tending to be in close contact.

Not only Latin comadres had this strong relationship: the word “gossip,” in fact, comes from “god-sib” (as in, god-sibling) and is a 12th century holdover from Catholic England.

Treat each other with respect
In certain parts of Latin America, compadres even switch from the informal “tú” form to the formal “usted” form, as a sign of respect after the ritual of baptism.

So if a Hispanic friend asks you to be a compadre or comadre, take it as both a big compliment and a big commitment.

Does your family have friends with a relationship like compadres? Let us know in the comments!

Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica for Your Little Ones

Spanish immersion in Costa Rica comes with fantastic ecotourism opportunities.

I have written before about how an immersion experience can be a great way to get your kids to learn – and actually speak – Spanish. It makes the language relevant, helps kids get real world practice, and also helps improve cultural understanding.

Most importantly for your children, it’s fun. That gives you a great tool when trying to convince them that this summer, they’ll be learning Spanish. One terrific option is Spanish immersion in Costa Rica.

Why Spanish Immersion in Costa Rica?

As a parent, the first question you are likely to ask yourself about when choosing the best Spanish immersion destination for your child is: is it safe?

As the most established democracy in Latin America, Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in the region. It has no army and, unlike its Central American neighbors, it has not yet been plagued by gangs and organized crime.

It’s also very welcoming of tourists. Whether you want to accompany your child, or whether you plan to send your teenager to a camp or Spanish school, be assured that there will be English-speaking guides to help you and your teen.

That said, one of the best parts of an immersion is being able to use Spanish in real-life situations, and Costa Ricans are famous for their hospitality and their willingness help you practice.

Costa Ricans speak a very clear, neutral Spanish, which is easy for beginner language learners to understand.

Spanish immersion in Costa Rica comes with fantastic ecotourism opportunities.

Spanish immersion in Costa Rica comes with fantastic ecotourism opportunities.

How to Choose an Immersion Program

Costa Rica offers a number of Spanish language camps, as well as dozens if not hundreds of language schools. How should you choose?

  • First of all, consider the age of your child. If you have a young child, consider whether you want to accompany him.
  • Define activities besides Spanish for your child to enjoy.  Camps for teenagers often combine other activities.  There are camps for teens interested in learning to surf, or would he prefer to volunteer on an environmental project?

Finding out what your child is interested in can help you both decide what kind of program to look for. In Costa Rica, Spanish for teens is a growing market, so there is a lot to choose from.

  • Define your budget and based on that the time he is going to spend in Costa rica.
  • Make a list of the best options and read the ratings, social proof and comments of the children if possible.
  • Contact each option you think is a possibility and talk to them via Skype or Facetime.  If there is not a contact name or a person you can reach out to I would not feel comfortable.

Where Should You Go?

In this article learn Spanish in Costa Rica I describe very well the areas of the country and how they can play an important role in your Spanish learning adventure.

Now you know “what,” so next up is “where.” Costa Rica is a small country, but it has a variety of different climates. If your child wants to surf, look for schools and camps on the beach. More interested in ziplining? That’s generally in the central part of the country.

You also want to consider whether the location is urban or rural. If your child is not used to big cities, it may be best to look for a school in smaller cities such as Heredia or Alajuela, as opposed to the capital San José.

If you are planning to accompany your child – or take advantage of their Spanish immersion in Costa Rica to make a trip yourself – your tourist options are close to endless. Rainforests? Check. Beaches? Check. Volcanoes? Check.

As with most locations, when traveling to Costa Rica, it’s best to think ahead of time about where you want to go and how long you have.

Tourist sites can be long distances between each other, and roads are not always the best. With forethought, you can plan out a trip that makes sure you don’t miss your must-sees.

Spanish immersion in Costa Rica is a great way for your kids to improve their language skills. And it doesn’t hurt that you could get the chance to tag along on a tropical vacation.

Have you taken your kids on a Spanish immersion trip? Tell us how it went in the comments!

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