Hispanic traditions, celebrations

Julianna Poe, Trending Editor

One major aspect of Hispanic culture is their holidays and customs; but most of all, quality time with kin.

“It’s just one thing that is huge about us: spending time with our family,” Spanish teacher Carmen Wilson said. “My favorite memories [are when] my whole family — and I’m not talking about my nuclear family, I’m talking about my extended family — all got together.”

According to Wilson, who grew up in Peru, Peruvians celebrate many of the same holidays as Americans, including Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. However, their “practices are a little bit different,” she said.

For example, on Christmas Eve, Peruvian families dress up and feast together. When Christmas Day rolls around at midnight, they celebrate and open presents. Later that day — as it’s summer in Peru — families may travel to the beach and spend the day together.

“When midnight comes, we hug each other and say … ‘Merry Christmas’ to everyone there,” Wilson said. “Then our neighbors come over to our place, or we go outside … and hug each other … That is the practice I do with my children even though my husband is from the United States.”

Furthermore, according to Aracari Travel, on New Year’s Eve, some Peruvian families place three potatoes — one unpeeled, one peeled, and one half-peeled — under their couch and at midnight, they’ll draw one. Unpeeled means you’ll have good finances, peeled symbolizes bad finances and half-peeled signifies normal finances. This tradition is just one of several others.

“[On] New Years … — this is bizarre because every country has a different thing — in Peru, everyone wears … yellow underwear on the 31st … because that will just bring you good luck,” Wilson said. “Some people put … lentils in their pockets. That symbolizes that you will have plenty all year long. And then we make th[ese] big doll[s] and we burn them because it symbolizes the old year. So we burn them so everything goes away and we start new.”

Hispanic cultures also have many holidays and celebrations that are unique to the United States. According to SpanishDict, some of these holidays include Día de los Reyes Magos (Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day; Jan. 6), La Semana Santa (Holy Week; leads up to Easter) and Cinco de Mayo (May 5).

On Jan. 28 and 29, Peruvains celebrate their own Independence Day, similar to the U.S.

“Just like the 4th of July, we celebrate our Independence from Spain,” Wilson said. “It is a time to get together with family. Although my family lives in Peru, … we always call each other … and we talk about what we are doing.”

One popular Hispanic holiday is called the Days of the Dead. According to the University of Mexico, this holiday is celebrated from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The first day is referred to as Halloween (All Hallows Eve), the second celebrates the children (All Saint’s Day) and the third remembers the dead (All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead). 

“[The Days of the Dead] is a big thing just in Mexico and Guatemala. For the other countries, we just remember our family members,” Wilson said. “My parents went to the cemetery and [gave] some flowers to some of the family members and [then] came home … It was very simple.”

Through celebrations, holidays and traditions, one thing is consistent in Hispanic culture: spending time with loved ones.

“We celebrate with family and friends,” Wilson said. “Everything that we do is big.”