Yes, there is an undeniable thirst to know and understand Hispanic and Latino Cultures more than ever. Why is that? Simple: More and more people are aware these cultures are here to stay due to healthy growth from different sources, and most important of all -it is transforming American culture and our way of living.
Family Is The Most Important Aspect of Latino Lives
We grow very close to our immediate and extended family. The elderly play a major role in giving advice to the adults and helping raise the youngsters. We appreciate and respect them deeply. When our parents grow old, we consider them our responsibility.
One of the most amazing Hispanic and Latino culture facts is the level of responsibility we feel for other family members. We help each other when we are experiencing poor health, economic trouble or simply need a hand to raise our children.
The picture shows a typical family “asado.” A weekend reunion where we dance, cook meats on the grill and share as a family. Believe me…many of my cousins did not fit in the picture!
I still remember my sister coming to NY to help me for a month when I delivered my son. She has two children of her own and the grandparents took care of them while she was helping me here.
We Pass Down Traditions from Generation to Generation
For example, it is very normal to have several members of the family with the same name. Naming our children after grandparents and parents is fairly common, and that is how Hispanic baby names carry tradition.
Many of the traditional celebrations revolve around religion, but others don’t, like receiving the New Year and saying goodbye to the old one by “quemando el Año Viejo” which means “burning” the old year which is represented by a human size rag doll stuffed with fireworks.
Music and Dance
Music and dance are very important elements for special occasions and everyday life! We love to get together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, baptisms, first communions, graduations, and weddings all around music and “baile” -dance.
Parties last a long time by American standards, most of the time more than four hours. Special occasions are an opportunity to show our intense passion for enjoying life.
Spanish is Key in Hispanic and Latino cultures
There are variations from country to country in grammar, lexicon, and pronunciation of letters like the ll, z, and y. Therefore we have many different dialects.
Keep in mind: There are Latinos who do not speak Spanish like Brazilians. They were colonized by Portugal and speak Portuguese.
In the U.S. many Hispanic and Latino families speak only Spanish at home because we live with grandparents who did not assimilate to the American culture or because we want our children to speak Spanish as well as English. Language continues to be an important vehicle for keeping our heritage alive.
Hispanic culture has a wealth of carnivals, holidays and festivities to enjoy music and dance. Many of these carnivals last days and are rooted in ancient Andean mythology like the Oruro Carnival in Bolivia.
Sense of Community Prevails in Hispanic and Latino Cultures
We like to identify ourselves as members of certain groups like country of origin, a soccer team, the idols we love, etc. We are very loyal to them. We feel very proud of our heritage, and consider famous Latino people ambassadors of our culture.
Religion Is a Vehicle to Express Our Faith
There is no doubt that Catholic influence on Hispanic countries is strong. Hispanics and Latinos are mainly Roman Catholic although even this is changing.
The culture places a lot of faith in the saints, the Virgin Mary, and patrons of certain causes. Praying, lighting candles, and believing in God are fairly common practices.
Easter, “cuaresma” or lent, Christmas, Three Kings, visiting the seven temples during “cuaresma”, praying the “mil Jesuses” -the thousand Jesus, etc., are some examples of the religious celebrations and traditions.
One of the most known Hispanic and Latino cultures characteristic is that religion plays a strong influence in political and spiritual matters. This is likely because until recently in some countries of Latin America there was no separation between church and state, making the Roma Catholic religion “the official one.”
Punctuality is not our strong point. Hispanic and Latino cultures are lax about being on time.
Proper attire is commonly used for going to church and all religious celebrations as well as the parties afterwards. These traditions seem to be less common in Latinos that have been in the U.S. for a while, therefore taking some cues from American culture.
Hugging, kissing on the cheek, gesticulating with our hands, and using the proper respectful titles to address adults and the elderly are fairly common practices in Hispanic and Latino cultures. Laughing loud and playing music at high volumes during parties are also part of the culture.
Do you know that visitors don’t have to announce themselves days in advance? Instead we are pleasantly surprised by an unexpected visitor. Like we always say “Mi casa es su casa” -my home is your home-, therefore you don’t need an invitation!
Hispanic and Latino cultures are becoming a powerful force characterized by openness, happiness, and strong traditions that are infiltrating our daily lives.