Combining cultures through the holidays

Juan Castillo, Staff Writer

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The holidays are meant to be a time for celebration but depending on a family’s traditions and beliefs, the ways in which those celebrations are carried out can be widely different. This is true in the case of many Latino households.

For some with parents who have immigrated to the United States from Latin American countries, Thanksgiving is not always as big a celebration as in most American homes.

“Thanksgiving is not a huge deal in my family,” said Stephanie Flores, a third-year student at ECC. “We still celebrate and have dinner, but it’s just not that important.”

This can simply stem from the fact that in countries like Mexico, Thanksgiving is not celebrated. It is an American tradition that is totally foreign to most people who immigrate to the United States. Still, many families choose to adopt these customs and make the holiday their own by adding a bit of a twist to it.

“For dinner, we usually do the typical American Thanksgiving food, like turkey and mashed potatoes,” Flores said. “But we also involve our culture into [the meal] by eating Mexican food, like rice and tamales.”

Latino households also put their own spins on holidays like Christmas as well. While in America the typical idea of the holiday is falling asleep before midnight on Christmas Eve only to wake up extra early on Christmas day to open presents, the Mexican way of celebrating is a bit different.

“For us, Christmas is celebrated in two days,” said Daniel Hernandez, a third-year student. “We get together on Christmas Eve and eat a lot of food. Then, at midnight, when it’s officially Christmas Day, we all gather together and open presents. [Later on], we get together again and celebrate some more.” 

The major difference, of course, is unwrapping presents. Instead of waiting until Christmas morning, many Latino households will wait until midnight, and then, the exchange of presents is made. The rest of the night is spent drinking, eating and enjoying the gifts received by loved ones. The next day the family gathers again, and whatever food is leftover from the previous night is reheated and enjoyed a second time.

When a family has roots in another country, they often bring traditions and customs with them to the United States. They will also adopt some new customs and traditions as well. This, of course, creates the melting pot of cultures that we live in. The holidays is a prefect display of that. A mixture of many cultures combining as a means to celebrate and spend time with loved ones.

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Combining cultures through the holidays