It’s Hispanic Heritage Month!
We celebrate this from mid-September to mid-October every year to commemorate the great Hispanic personalities and accomplishments in the United States. FYI, the term Hispanic refers to people living in the United States that are native speakers of Spanish or have Spanish-speaking ancestry.
This joyous month is also bittersweet for me.
On one hand, it’s a great reminder of our culture, the diversity within it, and a celebration of its uniqueness. On the other hand, it makes me miss home and everything I love about it.
Here are some of the things I love and miss most about my culture.
Hispanics are notoriously social people and live for community.
We love getting together and celebrating anything and everything. It’s common to get together for weeknight birthdays with uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. We are always ready to gather, have some food and play some music to celebrate any occasion. Holidays are not an excuse to stay home and relax, but to gather and party. Living far away from family makes this a bit harder for me.
Our food. We love food.
This is probably the thing I miss most. Tropical fruits, saltwater seafood, rice and beans, our herbs and spices, the fritters, and bread. You name it, I miss it. Food is not only tasty and a source of nutrition, but it also lets us gather and provide for our family. We love being able to feed others and it gives us so much joy and fulfillment being able to make somebody else happy. Food is a source of joy to Hispanics.
I’ll take all the hot Summer days and give you all the cool (ahem freezing cold) Fall nights. One wardrobe year-round, no need to check the weather every single day. There’s no yearly adjustment to the seasons, the trees are always green, there are always flowers brightening up the landscape, and the air smells like the tropics. A quick dip in the ocean is the cure for everything.
I miss talking in my native tongue. It’s a romance language and full of emotion. Everything sounds more passionate, serious, joyful, and deliberate when said in Spanish. Easy to read, and hard to comprehend. You can say the same thing in a thousand different ways. Plus, there’s something about the sing-song way we talk that makes me feel right at home.
The liveliness of the culture.
Celebrating The Epiphany (we are mostly Catholic), town-wide fiestas, the music, and the dancing. The people are welcoming. Personal bubbles are respected but meant to be broken with conversation. We acknowledge every passerby with a smile, say “buen provecho” (aka bon appétit) to the table sitting next to us at a restaurant, strike up a conversation with the person waiting in line next to you. I’m an introvert, but I still miss the warmth you feel when you’re in Puerto Rico.
These are just a few of the things I miss most about my culture.
It’s important to clarify that this is solely based on my experience, born and raised in Puerto Rico. It will definitely not be the same experience for all Hispanics and not even for all Puerto Ricans.
This month, I encourage you to explore the different cultures, especially if you have a Hispanic friend or neighbor. Every country has its own set of values and traditions.
Fun fact: Constituting 18.5% of the United States population, Hispanics are the nation’s largest ethnic and racial minority, with 60.6 million people identifying as Hispanic as of July 1, 2019. (Source)
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