Christmas in the Hispanic Heritage

Christmas is often described as one of the happiest times of the year. From the sounds of holiday music playing all around you to the family and friends who come down and visit to surround us with love, there is always something you can find on this joyous holiday that makes it worth celebrating for everyone. 

Many families and cultures celebrate differently, such as the different foods they eat, when they actually celebrate Christmas, the games they play and what it means to them. 

The students from the Spanish for Heritage speakers class had a variety of answers and various traditions that they hold dear to their hearts and culture every time Christmas comes rolling around. 

Junior Helen Leger is Dominican and states her family “celebrates Christmas a day early and [they] call it “Noche Buena”’. She states that on this day they eat on the 24th and open their gifts at midnight.  

A traditional plate of food made during this time of the year for Leger is “pernil” which is described as similar to chicken, but they also eat “lasagna and pastelón”. 

One of the biggest differences among all cultures in celebrating Christmas is how they would spend it back in their countries. 

When asked what Christmas would look like if Leger were to visit family back in the Dominican Republic, she stated that “[it would] be really different from here for sure, celebrations start way earlier so they start celebrating Christmas a week before… and then two weeks after that they celebrate Three Kings Day.” 

Three Kings Day, also called Epiphany, is a Christian celebration of the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus, and thus the revelation of the God incarnate, and normally is commemorated through a feast. 

Sophomore Gilberto Ceja expressed similar thoughts stating that “[it would] be completely different, they have parades and they celebrate it throughout weeks… and Christmas has a completely different name in Mexico.” 

Ceja stated that one of his family’s traditions in his culture is to “spend the first day which is the 25th with one side of the family [they] cook and eat a lot of food and then on the 26th [they] go to the other side of the family and eat more food.” 

A response given many times when asked what the student’s biggest traditions among their family and culture is at Christmas is that they celebrate early, such as Sophomore Micaella Avellan stating that her family “does not celebrate Christmas on actual Christmas, [they] celebrate it on Christmas Eve and [they] open presents and just celebrate the day before.”

For Avellan, going back to Argentina during the Christmas season would be a different experience because “there would be way more people because here in the United States there’s only like a few of [her] family, [but] the rest of the family is in [another] country.” 

 Family was one of the biggest values among the students, and one of the things that all of them agreed was the major difference in how Christmas spent here with fewer family as opposed to the countries they are from. Sophomore Samuel Ortega stated “[He feels] like it would be more about spending time with family than about the presents.” 

Regardless of how you spend Christmas, what traditions you carry from year to year, and the culture you come from, the holidays are all about family, and spending time together.

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