things that matter

10 Fun Ways Latinos Celebrate Navidad

As the holiday season approaches, Latino families are gearing up to celebrate Navidad in many festive ways. From dramatic light displays, to feasting on favorite recipes, Navidad is a time that community and tradition join together. Always the welcoming hosts, Latinos share their homes, exchange gifts and set off fireworks to light up the night in style. Parties erupt with laughter and music. Navidad celebrations even continue into the new year with unique ways to bring good luck. Here are 10 fun Latino traditions to help you celebrate Navidad from early December all the way through the first week of January. Felices Fiestas!

La Quema del Diablo and Dia De Las Velitas

Credit: Instagram @virgiliof97

Depending on the area you are from, Navidad celebrations can begin as early as the first week of December. In Venezuela there is a special feast on Saint Barbara’s day, December 4th. In Guatemala, La Quema del Diablo kicks off the Navidad season with huge bonfires at dusk to keep Satan away from the festivities to follow.

Credit: Instagram @lalitaspics

In Colombia, the first official Navidad celebration is December 7th on Dia De Las Velitas, or Day of the Little Candles. This public holiday includes lighting candles and lanterns to honor the Virgin Mary. 

Parrandas and Villancicos

Credit: Instagram @mandarinascaracas

Nobody loves spontaneous group singing like Latinos do! The 9 nights leading up to Navidad, gather la trulla and surprise your neighborhood with Parrandas or Villancicos, traditional carol-like songs. In Puerto Rico, groups walk through town singing along with instruments like the cuatro guitar, maracas and drums. 

Credit: Instagram @luckygette

This tradition is so fun, it’s not unheard of for the group to continue singing and growing larger as they travel through town well past midnight. Of course there’s plenty of food and drinks served along the way!

Posadas Navideñas

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In addition to parrandas, the 9 days leading up to Navidad also include Posadas Navidenas. Children love to dress up as Mary and Joseph and reenact the events leading up to the birth of Jesus by traveling throughout their neighborhood. 

Credit: Instagram @eddy18sb

The Posada group is “turned away” from the host the first 8 nights representing the struggles of Joseph and Mary looking for shelter. On the ninth night, the host lets them enter, and a celebration follows. If you’re looking for fun the days leading up to Navidad, Latino neighborhoods are definitely the place to be!

Nacimientos

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Nacimientos are Nativity scenes created to help decorate Latino homes during Navidad, featuring Joseph, Mary, the wise men and animals. Our family had a very modest nacimiento but some include extremely detailed designs. 

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The figure of baby Jesus isn’t added until the night of December 24th, celebrating his birth. 

Niño Dios or Papa Noel

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Who needs Santa? While some Hispanic areas do acknowledge Papa Noel, many Latino children write special letters to Niño Dios, asking for presents each year. 

Credit: Instagram @martincarazomendez

It is far more common in the Latino culture for letters to be addressed directly to baby Jesus himself. With millions of excited niños waiting, that’s one busy baby each Navidad. 

Nochebuena

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Nochebuena is the main event for Latino Navidad celebrations. Families and friends gather together on December 24th for the ultimate evening of celebration. Gifts, sparklers and piñatas are all part of the fun. If your family is like mine, the heart of the evening will be sharing a delicious feast of favorite foods. Pasteles, lechon, roscas, creamy natilla and tamales are all favorites. My family  would hide an olive in the middle of each tamale to honor the Virgin Mary. 

Credit: Instagram @cesarledon

Of course no Navidad holiday would be complete without fireworks! And if you’re looking to add a little more spice to your evening, be sure it includes coquito; basically egg nog but better…think rum! Many families will wrap up their celebrations in time for the traditional Midnight Mass and then it’s back to la casa to open more presents! 

La Misa Del Gallo

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If you haven’t been to this special midnight Mass before, put it on your bucket list.  This Catholic tradition dates back centuries. Latinos across the world gather at their local church at midnight on December 24th, sharing in prayer and reflecting on the birth of Jesus.

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I remember the last one I attended was so crowded with people you could barely see the front of the church, but it didn’t matter because just being a part of that moment felt amazing. 

Ano Viejo

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Navidad celebrations extend beyond Nochebuena for Latino families. A favorite tradition takes place on December 31st when Latinos create scarecrow type dolls or muñecas out of old clothes stuffed with grass. 

Credit: Instagram @mini.anoviejo

Symbolizing the year that is ending, the muñecas range from doll to life sized. On December 31st, light your doll on fire to represent the old year ending, adios!

Feliz Año Nuevo

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Quickly eating a dozen grapes as the new year strikes is another fun Latino New Year tradition. Don’t forget to make a wish for each month as you gulp those grapes! 

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If you’re looking for good luck in the coming year, join other Latinos in wearing yellow underwear to bed, or choose the color red if you’d like a year full of love.

El Dia de los Reyes

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Navidad celebrations usually wrap up with Dia de los Reyes on January 6th. This is the day of Epiphany, in honor of the three Kings who traveled to meet baby Jesus. If you weren’t one of the kids writing letters to baby Jesus or Santa, then you may remember leaving your hay-filled shoes out for the three Kings’ camels, hoping the Kings in turn would leave you a gift too.

Credit: Instagram @olivia.reyees

My favorite part of this day was enjoying the sweet bread Rosca de Reyes, although I never did find the small plastic baby Jesus hidden inside. 

21 Times Hipsters Ruined Latinx Culture

things that matter

21 Times Hipsters Ruined Latinx Culture

Hipsters have a habit of ruining Latinx culture. You only have to go on Instagram or Facebook, and you’ll see a ton of memes and photos highlighting the many ways hipsters culturally appropriate things from South America.

Some of these are hysterical. We’re sure you’ll relate to what we’re talking about. Let’s dive in!

1. Pairing High-Quality Colombian Coffee with Avocado Toast

Credit: Cortado, avocado toast. Digital Image. Flickr/ T.Tseng. October 6, 2015

How many times have you seen freshly brewed Columbian coffee on social media- to have the image ruined with hipster health crazes like avocado toast? Kale salad? Or, some kind of meal served in a mason jar? Urgh.

2. Facial Furniture

Credit: Man. Digital Image. PxHere. 3rd July 2017

Whether you’re a fan of facial furniture or not, it’s safe to say hipster beards had a predecessor- the Latin American mustache.

3. Expensive Avocados

Credit: sliced green avocado fruit. Digital Image. Unsplash/@thoughtcatalog. April 6, 2018

Avocados have been a staple ingredient in Latin American cookery for centuries- well before hipsters got a hold of them. Unfortunately, their surge in popularity has forced their price up, drastically!

4. Overpriced Artisan Food Trucks Selling ‘Mexican Food’

Credit: Mexican Food. Digital Image. Unsplash/ @paulavermeulen. September 19, 2017

Once upon a time, South American laborers would stop for lunch and visit a food truck and enjoy a cheap, practical, and authentic meal. Whereas now, if you visit a ‘Mexican’ food van, you’ll often find an overpriced miniature restaurant!

5. Quinoa

Quinoa- another example of Latin American food that became a Hipster food craze. Dubbed the ‘miracle grain from the Andes,’ – again it became so popular it tripled in price!

6. Glorious Ponchos

Credit: Woman Standing Surrounded by Trees. Digital Image. Unsplash/ @tamarabellis. November 28, 2017

The poncho (also known as a serape) was worn for generations in Southern American culture- way before hipsters claimed them as their own.

7. Large Hoop Earrings

Credit: Gold Hoop Earrings. Digital Image. Pixabay/sarakgraves. May 12, 2016

News flash! Hipster women didn’t start the large ‘edgy’ hoop earring ‘trend.’ These accessories are a long-standing fashion statement in Latino culture.

8. Overcomplicated Tacos

Credit: Board of Four Soft Tacos on Table. Digital Image. Unsplash/ @misswattson. December 9, 2017.

Traditionally, tacos were simple. Now, you’ll walk into a hipster-inspired restaurant and see a menu full of tacos infused with goodness knows what!

9. Frida Kahlo Merchandise

Credit: Frida Kahlo. Digital Image. Pixabay/ Katchi. September 2018.

Urgh. If we see another Frida Kahlo poster in a hipster coffee bar, or one more decorated phone case, notepad, or vintage-looking T-shirt with a print of Frida Kahlo’s face plastered all over it- we’re going to scream!

10. Overpriced Coconut Water

Credit: Person Holding Bai Antioxidant Cocofusion Drink Bottle. Digital Image. Unsplash/ @kalvisuals. June 5, 2018

At what stage did coconut water cost the earth? We remember a time where you could walk into a Latino grocery store and drink coconut water straight from a coconut- for next to nothing! Thanks, hipsters for ruining that.

11. ‘Street Corn’

Credit: close photo of grilled corn. Digital Image. Unsplash/@photo4msnp.  August 6, 2018

This cracks us up.  Mexican corn on the cob isn’t a thing! So many trendy ‘Mexican’ restaurants have named ordinary corn on the cob ‘street corn.’ This isn’t a thing! It’s a great snack, but corn isn’t a massive deal in Mexico.

12. The Commercialization of Lucha Libre

Credit: Man in Mask Inside Wrestling Ring. Digital Image. Unsplash/@joehernandez. March 4, 2017.

Lucha Libre was once a traditional family event. Now in many corners of the US, it’s more like a traveling hipster circus! Not cool.

13. Chia Seeds

Credit: Chia. Digital Image. Pixabay/ValeriaJa. March 1, 2017.

Latin Americans have eaten Chia seeds for centuries; they were a delicacy enjoyed by the Maya and Aztecs. These days, you’ll find these goodies sprinkled all over hipster-esc lattes, smoothies, overnight oats, [insert chic sounding refreshment here], etc.

14. Pan Dulce

Credit: Concha (pan dulce mexicano). Digital Image. Wikimedia. 3 April 2015.

You can’t blame hipsters for enjoying Pan Dulce- it’s delicious. For those of you who don’t know, this refers to a variety of Mexican pastries: besos, conchas, and cuernos- among others. These kinds of bread are some of Mexico’s cheapest yet tastiest treats!

15. Clothes Dripping in Huipil

Credit: Huipil San Antonio Aguas Calientes Front Detail. Digital Image. Wikimedia. 11 June 2012

High street stores are selling designs influenced by Huipil patterns. Indigenous women of Mexico initially wore these. What’s the betting these hipsters have no idea where these ‘bohemian’ designs originated from?

16. Cinco de Mayo Isn’t Mexican Independence Day

Credit: Person Wearing Skull Mask Costume Sitting on Bench. Digital Image. Unsplash/@sidelinejones. February 2, 2018

Cinco de Mayo is often confused by hipsters as Mexican Independence Day. It’s not. Plus, it’s not just an excuse for people to stuff their faces with tacos and knock back margaritas. This day celebrates Mexico’s victory during the Battle of Puebla (1862).  This was a big deal because a tiny Mexican army managed to defeat a larger French force. How cool is that?

17. Chola Style

Credit: Vintage Madras by Polo Ralph Lauren. Digital Image. Flickr/ Robert Sheie. November 1, 2012

Everyone’s donning Chola style. Hipsters are rocking freshly painted eyebrows, huge hooped earrings and chequered shirts with the top button done (draped over a white tank top).

However, we urge hipsters to take a second to consider the historical roots of the ‘Chola’ aesthetic. It’s not just a fashion craze. Rather, it’s a genuine identity stemming from Latin American history and culture.

18. Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos)

Credit: Mexican Day Of The Dead. Digital Image. Flickr/Eva Rinaldi. December 6, 2014

Día de Los Muertos (also known as Day of the Dead) has become a favorite with millennial hipsters. However, a good proportion of them don’t know the difference between this and Haloween- despite wearing a Calavera as a costume.

19. The Commercialization of Pinatas

Credit: Pinata. Digital Image. Pixabay/kliempictures. Jan. 2, 2017

Okay, this may seem a little silly- but bear with us. A pinata used to be precisely that, a pinata. Now, you can get all kinds of things to hit with a stick: love hearts, Halloween-themed ghouls, unicorns- you name it! What’s wrong with a traditional pinata?

20. Grasshoppers

Credit: Green and Orange Eastern Lubber Grasshopper. Digital Image. Unsplash/@vincentvanzalinge. October 31, 2017

Grasshoppers (also known as ‘Chapulines’) are an ancient snack, Latinos have enjoyed for centuries. You’ve probably seen plenty of new-age travelers taking snaps if their gap year in South America. For them, eating insects is a novelty. Whereas, for many, this was a way of life- way before it became ‘exotic.’

21. Churros

Credit: Churros on Chopping Board. Digital Image. Unsplash/@huibscholten. September 19, 2017

There’s a good chance you’ll see tons of images of hipsters enjoying churros as street food- especially during the winter. However, this isn’t culturally accurate. Fresh churros are traditionally a breakfast food dipped in thick hot chocolate. Yum!

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