Culture

Now That Christmas Is Over, A Lot Of Latinos Are Getting Ready For Día De Reyes—Here’s What The Tradition Is All About

Now that Christmas is over, most of the world is getting ready to put the Christmas tree away and pack it up until next December arrives; not Hispanic people though. A lot of Latinos still keep the party going, and it doesn’t end until Jan. 6, when Día de Reyes, or the Epiphany, arrives bearing more gifts. 

What is ‘Día de Reyes’?

On January 6, most Hispanic cultures celebrate El Dia De Reyes, or the Epiphany, in remembrance of the day when the Three Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, arrived bearing their treasured gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for Baby Jesus.  

The three kings of orient

Guided by a shining star, the three Kings of the Orient, riding a camel, a horse and an elephant, rode off into the desert to find baby Jesus. They came from different parts of the world, one was from Africa, another was European, the last was Arabic. The gifts they gave Jesus were gold: for a king, myrrh: for a man, and incense: for a god. This story represents the first time that gentiles turned to Christianity. 

The tradition in Latin America

The celebration of Jan. 6 is a tradition that dates back to the evangelization of the New World in the time of the Conquistadors, and has carried on to actuality. In Mexico and other countries, it’s the Reyes Magos who deliver the toys, not Santa Claus. 

In Mexico

Just a few days earlier, the children write their letters to the Wise Men, or to their favorite Rey Mago: Melchor, Gaspar, or Baltasar, asking for the presents they would like to receive. They tie their letter to a balloon and let the balloon float into the sky. On the eve of January 6, they’re supposed to leave their shoes by a window, with a little bit of hay for the Kings’ animals to snack on. The next morning the hay is gone, and the shoes are stuffed and surrounded with toys. 

Another traditional aspect of Día de Reyes is eating Rosca with cafecito or atole. The host usually invites family and friends over to ‘cut the rosca’. Inside the bread, there are several miniature baby Jesus dolls, and the person or people who find a baby Jesus in their slice of bread, must make tamales and atole for everyone on February 2, ‘Día de la Candelaria.’ 

In Argentina

As opposed to Mexico, where children write their letters and send them to the Reyes Magos via a floating balloon, in Argentina, the little ones leave their letters inside their shoes on the eve of Jan. 6.

A different tradition in Bolivia

In this South American country, the tradition is not so much around gifts and toys. It’s more of a family affair. In Bolivia, it’s traditional for families to take their ‘pesebre’ figurines to church, and have them blessed by the priest. At the end of mass, several families gather around the church to exchange figurines or ornaments and sometimes they give gifts to families in need. 

In Puerto Rico

This Caribbean country has another way of celebrating too. In Puerto Rico, it’s traditional to see children running to parks to rip off patches of grass. At the end of the day on the eve of Epiphany day, they stash the grass in a shoe box that they put under the bed for the Kings to find. The grass is meant to feed the camel, horse, and elephant and the Kings take it in exchange for presents for the kids.

READ: The Rosca De Reyes Is A Mexican Classic But Do You Know The Story Behind It?

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Alaina Castillo’s New TikTok Trend Is Empowering People To Embrace Their Latinidad

Culture

Alaina Castillo’s New TikTok Trend Is Empowering People To Embrace Their Latinidad

Not everyone has the privilege of growing up surrounded by their cultura, with parents there to pass on knowledge of traditions and customs from home. That, combined with heavily opinionated internet trolls, has led to many people struggling to feel confident in their identity. In a digital world that tries to force us all to fit into boxes, what does “Latino enough” mean and how do you know if you’re there?

Recently, we asked our Instagram community “what does being Latino mean to you?” and although some responses had details in common, for the most part they were as unique as every member of the community itself. There is no one definition of Latinidad, and therefore there is no way to measure what exactly makes someone “Latino enough.”

We got the chance to talk to Alaina Castillo, musical artist and TikTok Queen, about how she identifies with Latinidad and what this TikTok trend means to her. Did we mention quarantine has not stopped her from dropping new music? Check out her latest single, “tonight”!

IMAGE COURTESY OF ALAINA CASTILLO

What does being Latina mean to you? – mitú

“It means that I have something to identify with and be proud of because of my family members, my culture, and the things that I participate in as a Latina.” – A.C.

Side note, this was a personal reminder that we represent the community wherever we occupy space, whether we realize it or not. We are all participating in things as members of the community.

What’s something that, as a Latina, you are proud of? – mitú

“The strength and endurance that we have. I’ve seen it in my dad, his family, and so many others and it makes me feel proud as well as encouraged to achieve my goals with the same mindset as them.” – A.C.

While they may not be perfect (and let’s face it, who is?), our parents are the definition of hard working. Remembering that their blood runs through my veins always keeps me going when the going gets tough. Si se puede!

What Latino figures inspire you? – mitú

“Selena, even though she was an artist that I didn’t really grow up listening to. When I found out who she was, she was someone who I related to because she was a Mexican-American learning to speak and sing in Spanish, while breaking a lot of barriers that people had set up around her.” – A.C.

La Reina del Tex-Mex was a trailblazer indeed! Who else could forget Selena’s iconic “diecicuatro” blurb when she appeared in an interview with Cristina Saralegui? The important thing to focus on is that she was TRYING! As long as we’re all working on improving and being the best versions of ourselves, that’s the best we can do, and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way.

IMAGE COURTESY OF ALAINA CASTILLO

Name one meal that, no matter where you have it, always reminds you of home. – mitú

“Homemade tamales!!!! 100%” – A.C.

You know we love some good tamales, so naturally our next question was…

Where is your family from? – mitú

“My dad is from Mexico and my mom is from Ohio.” – A.C.

Mmmm…Mexican tamales 😋

Have you ever been to those places? – mitú

“Yes, both places. I went to Mexico when I was really young, maybe about two times, and then I’ve traveled to Ohio on various occasions to see family. I was young each time I went to those places so they’re little memories I think of when I miss my family.” – A.C.

What would you say is the most “Latino” item in your home? – mitú

“We have these blankets from my grandma that I grew up using. I thought they were normal blankets but then I saw on social media that almost every Latino household has some and I was like hmmm, what do you know?” – A.C.

IMAGE COURTESY OF ALAINA CASTILLO

What would you say to people who think that not speaking Spanish makes you less Latino? – mitú

“I think it’d definitely be nice to know the language fluently but some people aren’t taught Spanish growing up and that’s not their fault. Not speaking the language doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same customs or should be rejected from the culture that their family is from. I decided to learn on my own because I’ve always been interested in Spanish, and also so I could speak with my family and I see that’s what a lot of other people are doing too.” – A.C.

One more time for the people in the back: not speaking Spanish doesn’t make you any less Latino.

How do you celebrate your Latinidad? – mitú

“With pride. I wouldn’t be who I am today without influences from my family so it’ll always be something I carry with me and proudly show throughout my life and career.” – A.C.

What do you hope people take away from this trend? – mitú

“That Latinidad is something you’re born with and it can’t ever be taken away from you,” – A.C.

So forget about the opinions of other people! All they’re doing is projecting their beliefs onto you and that is not an actual reflection of who you are. We hope you are inspired to embrace your Latinidad on your own terms, and that you walk more confidently in your identity. So duet us on TikTok and don’t forget to use the hashtag #AreYouLatinoEnough to join in on the fun!

Did we mention quarantine has not stopped Alaina Castillo from dropping new music? Check out her latest single, “tonight,” below!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

New York Times Square New Years Eve Celebration Canceled

Culture

New York Times Square New Years Eve Celebration Canceled

Stefano / Flickr

For the first time in 114 years, the Times Square New Years Eve party has been canceled. The famous New Year’s Eve gathering is a major part of the New Year’s Eve celebration with people cramming into Times Square to watch the ball drop to mark the new year. This year, everything about the celebration is changing because of Covid.

New Year’s Eve in Times Square has been canceled.

The in-person celebration with crowds packing into the intersection to watch the ball drop is going virtual. Like the Emmys earlier this month, and countless other events, the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration is all virtual. The decision to cancel the in-person part of the Times Square Ball Drop is, well, Covid, of course.

“One thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on December 31st,” Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said in a statement. “But this year there will be significantly new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences – still in development — will take place in Times Square. And because any opportunity to be live in Times Square will be pre-determined and extremely limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, there will be the opportunity to participate virtually wherever you are.”

We still don’t have a lot of details about the virtual aspect of New Year’s Eve, we are all waiting.

According to a statement, the organizers realize that Covid has been the dominating force of 2020. The celebration always includes aspects of the major events from the previous year into the experience. The socially distanced handful of honorees and lack of an audience is a clear representation of the still real Covid crisis.

Some people are really upset about the decision to cancel the celebration.

It is one of those iconic moments so many people dream of doing. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for so many. The Times Square Ball Drop is something that most Americans recognize thanks to the dominant role the ball drop played on New Year’s Eve growing up. It is basically tradition to have the NYE party playing on the TV.

New Yorkers are confused about why anyone would want to do that.

New Yorkers avoid Times Square at all costs. It isn’t a convenient or super enjoyable part of town. It is packed with tourists who don’t know where they are going and NYE is about the worst it gets for Times Square. Now, the ball drop is impressive and something so many people consider an iconic moment in the holiday celebration.

“We will miss everyone this year but we will bring our celebration to you, whether you want to turn off and turn away from the bad news of 2020, or turn to the new year with a sense of hope, renewal and resolution, you’ll be able to join us virtually like never before as part of the Times Square 2021 celebration,” Jeff Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment, said in a statement.

But, mainly, people just want 2020 to be over.

This year has been a hard year for so many. People have lost their jobs and their loved ones as the virus runs through the U.S. Covid-19 is still a real threat to people, especially the vulnerable population.

READ: Nearly 9,000 Unaccompanied Child Migrants Have Been Expelled From the U.S. Under Trump’s COVID-19 Restrictions

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com