The more I researched Puerto Rican culture and attempted to make myself more privy to it, the more I got the feeling that it mirrored the way in which the American cultures was cultivated. In no way am I asserting that American and Puerto Rican culture are one in the same rather the manner in which each culture took shape are closely related. Puerto Rican culture came about as a conglomeration of foreign influences just like the culture present here in the states.
At a glance, there is very little that binds Puerto Rican and American culture other than the fact that Puerto Rico is an American territory and English is a prominent language on the Caribbean island but the more I learned, the more I found that the evolution of Puerto Rican culture is a strong parallel to American culture.
One of the most important factors that shape any culture in the world is geography and Puerto Rico draws its cultural influences from one of the most unique geographical placements in the world: the Caribbean.
The reason the Caribbean is so unique is its proximity to both Africa and South America. If you read through the history of Puerto Rico, you will know that it was conquered by the Spanish who found the indigenous Taino Indians.
The echoes of the Taino can still be heard in Puerto Rican culture even in music as a traditional Taino instrument called the guiro is still used in Puerto Rican music but the Spanish brought language and Catholicism which are both very much engrained in every day Puerto Rican life. The Spanish also imported Africans to the island and the African influence can definitely be seen and heard in Puerto Rican through bomba music and dance.
More recently, Puerto Rico’s location has made it a locale for Cuban refugees fleeing from Fidel Castro’s communist regime and Dominican Republic expatriates who came to Puerto Rico seeking a better life and more economical opportunities. All of these influences shape the Puerto Rican culture with regards to food and integration.
At this point you can probably just assume that any article on this site will involve the discussion of food in some way shape or form and I would be remiss to write an article about Puerto Rican culture that did not touch on the food. For any culture in the world, cuisine stands as a distinguishing factor and a representation of the spirit of a nation, the fruition of a people’s efforts and the nature of their land. Puerto Rico is no different.
Since Puerto Rico is essentially a tropical island, it grows lots of tropical fruit such as plantains, coconuts and papaya which all make their mark in traditional Puerto Rican dishes.
Chicken Adobo is a common dish as are a variety of exotic stews. The influence that is most prominent in Puerto Rican fare comes from Spain but many Caribbean spices are also contributors to the flavors of the island.
Puerto Rican culture differentiates itself from other Hispanic nations thanks to its location and long history. While African factors played no part in the development of other Latin countries, it was very crucial to the evolution of Puerto Rican culture. The fact that Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island also gives the whole vibe there a more tropical and exotic feel.
In many ways, Puerto Rican culture is the result of an amalgamation of foreign cultures. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Isn’t that how America formed and continues to form its culture as well? That is what struck me the most when preparing to write this article; Puerto Rican culture can almost be seen as a microcosm of American culture. It draws from historical events, foreign contributors and is marked by the acceptance of such foreign cultures.
In any case, Puerto Rican culture which you can read more about in the article Christmas in Puerto Rico, stands as an example of how diversities are not something to be shunned but celebrated and of how the work of the entire globe can form a unique culture.