Hispanic Culture Facts



Published: 12 Aug 2022

Hispanic Culture

Historians believe that Hispanic culture began in the Age of Exploration. Europeans began to travel by sea to search for trade routes, spices, glory, and religion. The Spanish, the Dutch, and the French are some examples of countries that traveled far from their homeland with different goals in mind. Spaniards, in particular, went to create settlements with the goal of spreading Christianity.

Spreading the word of God is an honorable action. Unfortunately, the Spaniards had brutal methods and considered many of the locals in countries they visited to be uncivilized.

The truth is that the people they met in these territories had different traditions, cultures, and uses for their own technology. But the Europeans considered them savages in need of help. Christopher Columbus, an infamous explorer, wanted to find a route to Asia using boats. He instead jumpstarted the control of other countries.

Contrary to popular belief, Christopher Columbus failed in everything he set out to do. The mismanagement of the territories they claimed caused consistent rebellion among the locals. Queen Isabella was even disgusted by Columbus’ actions when he delivered 500 slaves. She explicitly tells him to never harm her subjects. Unfortunately, Columbus never learns from his mistakes.

Columbus dies poor, stripped of his title, but with a mark on history. He changes the course of the world by influencing many countries with Spanish culture. People who come from the countries they have enslaved would later be called Hispanic.

Nowadays people are proud of their Hispanic culture. The rich diversity in each country under Spain’s influence has become landmines for knowledge. Learning about all of them at once will be overwhelming. So here are a few facts about the Hispanic culture to get you started.

  1. The United States has had a total of 62.1 million Hispanic Americans under its care since 2020.
  2. Hispanic Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 annually.
  3. Hispanics in the US with Mexican or Chilean blood celebrate their country’s independence days on September 16 and 18 during the National Hispanic Heritage Month.
  4. Most of the Hispanic culture, traditions, and values in America come from Mexico, with descendants covering 61% of the Hispanic American population.
  5. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua all celebrate their independence days on September 15.
  1. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world.
  2. The United States Law Library of Congress has created guides to inform people about Hispanic Heritage Month.
  3. California is the state with the most people of Hispanic heritage in the United States.
  4. Only those of Hispanic descent can win the Platino Awards, the Latin Grammy Awards, and the Miguel de Cervantes Award.
  5. The majority of Hispanics are Christian.
  6. Hispanic American culture has divided themselves with words like Chicano (Mexican Americans) and Buoricuas (Puerto Rican American) to refer to their specific country of origin.
  7. Hispanic culture prioritizes family over oneself.
  8. Families with Hispanic influence usually favor the eldest male to make decisions for the family.
  9. Activists in the 1970s pushed for the United States Census to include Hispanics.
  10. Grandparents act as religious emissaries and peacemakers in the family.
  1. Hispanics have won the FIFA World Cup 5 times.
  2. Hispanics have longer lifespans because of their attentiveness to their elders.
  3. Latin and Hispanic Americans have contributed significantly to the population of America.
  4. There are Hispanic Jews.
  5. Hispanic comes from the ancient Roman territory Hispania, meaning the Iberian Peninsula.
Table of Contents

Hispanic is an ethnicity.

Many people don’t know that the term “Spanish” does not mean race. The word Spanish would only refer to nationality and language. Hispanics are people who were influenced by Spanish culture. This is because the word Hispanic references the cultures, traditions, values, language, and beliefs that come from Spain. People from countries other than Spain could have Hispanic ethnicities. The countries where Hispanics are from are Mexico, Honduras, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Panama, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

Hispanic and Latin families hold Quinceaneras.

Hispanic and Latino culture places importance on a girl’s 15th birthday. Parents and relatives of the young girl introduce her to adulthood quinceanera celebration known as quinceañera. One of the most well-known Hispanic traditions throughout the world, quinceaneras is a mixture of two Spanish words: quince meaning fifteen and anos meaning year. Traditionally, quinceaneras is a sign that a girl is ready for marriage with social and family responsibility in mind.

People attend a thanksgiving mass first when celebrating quinceaneras. After this, the young girl will wear a ball gown and hold a bouquet with colors to her preference. The party resumes in a banquet hall where dancing, drinks, and food are available.

The celebration has different roles for different people. Chambelanes are young men who dance for the birthday girl. The younger sister or younger family member is also involved in the La última muñeca where parents give the birthday girl a doll she passes on to the younger female relative.

El primer ramo de flores, meaning the first flower bouquet, is also given during this night. The birthday girl will smash 15 pinatas as a symbol of her life as a child. The highlight of a quinceanera, however, is the singing of the birthday song, Las Mananitas, which relatives sing to the birthday girl as she slices her birthday cake.

Dia Delos Muertos is a popular worldwide tradition from Mexico.

Historians trace back Dia Delos Muertos, also known as the Day of the Dead, to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Nahua tribes and Aztecs believed that death was a part of life, which remains important to modern-day Hispanics.

The Aztecs and Nahua tribes believed that the dead traveled to Chicunamictian where the departed souls would travel through nine levels before reaching Mictlan, their final resting place. They would place food, water, and tools to help their deceased loved ones on the difficult journey to reach Mictlan.

Spain also does the same during All Souls Day. The Spanish would bring wine and bread (called pan de animas) along with flowers and candles to help the dead find their way back home. Spaniards brought this tradition to the New World, intertwining both traditions.

Mexicans place their offerings to the dead on ofrendas during the Day of the Dead. They believe that the spirits and the living can interact during this day, treating the dead honored guests in the real world.

An interesting fact about the Day of the Dead is that Jose Guadalupe Posada’s Hispanic heritage art titled La Calavera Catrina, translated as the Elegant Skull, helped make the celebration more famous to foreigners. People would wear skull masks and eat skull-shaped candy during the celebration. In contrast to most rituals for the dead, Day of the Dead is a happy celebration that tourists can participate in respectfully.

Pinatas originally represented Satan.

Pinatas are an icon of Hispanic culture. You can find them included in their parties such as birthdays and Las Posadas. They come in different colors and shapes and are customizable to make them more fun to look at. Pinatas are usually made of breakable but solid materials such as clay, cardboard, and many more. While it’s now common to find pinatas based on cartoon characters like Spongebob or Peppa Pig, Hispanics originally have the pinata in the shape of a circle with seven spikes poking out of it.

Aztecs practiced the use of pinatas even before the Spaniards arrived. The tribe members would place feathers, candy, and other assortments inside a clay pot that they would break using a stick.

Spaniards, after learning of their similarities with Aztecs, decided to add Roman Catholic influence to its practice. Spaniards changed the clay pot into a star with seven points. Each of the seven points represented one of the deadly sins: lust, gluttony, envy, wrath, pride, sloth, and greed. The circle in the middle would represent Satan, and the treats inside would be Satan’s temptations. Spaniards taught the Aztecs that blindfolding oneself while attempting to break the pinata symbolized absolute faith in God with the virtue He taught us.

Los Mariachis is a way to the Hispanic’s heart.

Los Mariachis is a group of musicians that sing songs and play music for an audience. Also known as a Mariachi band, they are usually composed of musicians that play stringed instruments. Los Mariachis were an all-male group that wore traje de charro until 1852. Modern Los Mariachis now include women in general. Male members traditionally wear traje de charro. This outfit is composed of short jackets, exaggerated bows, sombreros, and tights. By 1852, female Los Mariachs members began wearing china poblana or the alternate version of the traje de charro.

Mexicans always need a Mariachi band during significant events in their lives. Celebrations such as weddings, courtships, and birthdays are accompanied by the songs of a Mariachi band. They, however, are mostly known for their roles in courtship. Mariachi bands have been known to serenade ladies on behalf of the gentlemen.

Mexican culture places strict boundaries between men and women. And in order to get their feelings across, many young men hire a Mariachi band to play the serenata. A serenata, also known as a serenade, is a sweet song of love for the young lady to listen to. Serenading was never against the boundaries set by the Mexican elders. Until today it is still a popular way to declare one’s feelings to another.

Los Mariachis
Image from Pixabay

Semana Santa is an important religious affair.

Spain is a very religious country. That is why most Hispanic culture has something to do with religion. One of the most important affairs in an entire year is Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week. Hispanics have been practicing Semana Santa since the 16th century. Every year the Catholic Church would organize processions that tell the Passion of Christ.

Spain celebrates Semana Santa with their cofradias (Catholic brotherhoods) where they perform penances while walking all over the city. During these celebrations, the parades are the highlight of the occasion. Nazarenos, also known as penitent ones, would participate by wearing white robes with pointed hats while bearing the cross as while marching. There would also be statues, also known as bultos, that would depict the Passion of Christ at each stage.

Semana Santa also has different parades where men, women, and children participate. Hispanic countries such as El Salvador, Colombia, and Mexico also celebrate Semana Santa with their own twists.

Mexico celebrates Semana Santa with live re-enactments. The Taxco province even has some of its participants lashing themselves and carrying thorns. In Colombia, Colombians use dishes to celebrate Semana Santa. They would eat exotic dishes made up of tortoises, crocodiles, and iguanas.

Hispanic people have collective values.

The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) of the United States released a study on how Hispanic clients respond to doctors. It discusses health-related topics concerning Hispanic people with respect to their cultures. The research paper discovered that Hispanic families have a collectivistic culture.

Collectivistic culture is when large groups share responsibilities, gather together regularly, and are extremely loyal to one another. Hispanic families have great respect for their elders and consider the eldest male in the family to be the leader. However, some families have the eldest female as the head of the family. These females are usually grandmothers.

Hispanics also live longer because of their collectivistic culture. This is because the entire family takes care of their elders. This makes it easier to spot abnormalities that the elders might experience and have them treated before it’s too late. Additionally, because of their values with family, Hispanic couples tend to have more children. This makes Hispanic families larger than the average number.

Hispanic and Latin should not be mixed.

People from all over the world use the words Hispanic and Latin interchangeably. It is only natural since most Latins have a Hispanic background. The truth is that Hispanic is a term that is associated with those from Spanish-speaking countries. Meanwhile, Latino culture originates from Latin American territories. This would mean that Brazilians, who speak Portuguese, are not Hispanic. However, they are within the Latin American territory, making them Latin. You could also add that Spain is a Hispanic country, but Spanish people are not Latino.

There is debate on whether or not the Philippines is a Hispanic country.

Many people wonder which countries are of Hispanic origin. It becomes clearer to individuals when they realize the qualifications to become Hispanic. The first qualification is that the Spanish race should have conquered the country and influenced their language. The second requirement is that the people must speak Hispanic languages (meaning their language is Spanish with a mixture of their own language). Finally, they must have Hispanic cultural values that they adopted during Spain’s control.

You can sort out which countries are Hispanic from this information alone. The first question answered is “are Spanish people Hispanic?” The Spanish are a part of the Hispanic community with these requirements. This would also mean that the Portuguese are not Hispanic. This is because Portuguese is not a Spanish language.

What about the Philippines? Spain conquered the Philippines for 300 years. However, once the Americans took over the Philippines, English replaced the country’s second language. Just like the Portuguese, Filipino languages have mixed Spanish terms, but the majority of them remain their own language.

People debate whether Filipinos are Hispanic because of the influence Spain had on them. Spaniards converted Filipinos and changed their language and culture just like in other Hispanic countries. Filipinos learned Spanish up to the 1970s as well. This makes them eligible for Hispanic ethnicity at first. However, the United States census describes Hispanics as people from Spanish-speaking countries. Now that Filipinos no longer speak Spanish, their eligibility is in question.

Carnivals are the last time they enjoy before Lent.

Hispanics and Latin Americans have celebrated carnivals for centuries. These are events set the day before Ash Wednesday where people can enjoy as much as they want before Lent.

Carnivals, also known as carnavals, came from Italy. The word carnival means “farewell to meat.” This is because Roman Catholics abstain from red meat beginning from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The French and Spanish adopted the tradition and brought it to their colonies, ultimately making it a Hispanic and Latin tradition as well.

You can go to carnivals in many countries. Even the state of New Orleans has them! However, the most well-recognized carnival is Mardi Gras in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

La Carnaval
Image from Pixabay

Hispanic families get together for Noche Buena.

The Spanish word Noche Buena, which means “good night”, refers to the event the Hispanics celebrate on December 24. The goal of Noche Buena is to gather friends and family and celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ.

Hispanic countries consider Noche Buena as the true celebration of Christ’s birth than December 25. On Christmas eve, Noche Buena has many Hispanics preparing large meals as the rest of the family and friends drink, eat, dance, and play games. Some Hispanics also participate in La Misa del Gallo or the midnight mass before Noche Buena.

The food in Noche Buena varies depending on the country of origin. Cubans celebrate Noche Buena with lechon, or a roasted pig. Meanwhile, the Mexicans have turkey, meat, tamales, and pozole (a traditional stew).

Siestas are extremely important to Hispanic culture.

Siesta, not to be confused with fiesta, is a Spanish word referring to break time after lunch. The word itself comes from the Latin word sexta which means sixth and hora which means hour. The sixth hour would mean just before six in the afternoon. While people don’t practice it at the exact time, they do usually take their siestas after lunch.

Major cities in Spain no longer practice siesta as strictly as before, however, the town of Ador still continues the tradition regularly. This means you won’t find any business open between 2 to 5 p.m. in Ador. Spaniards with large companies used to practice siestas and have their employees work up until 8 p.m.

Siestas were popular in Latin American countries. This is because during those times, before the invention of air conditioning, siestas took place during the hottest hours of the day. This allowed employees to take a break from the heat instead of sweating or fainting. Nowadays, most people do not participate in siestas. However, Spaniards still practice siestas and participate in them on occasion. Those who do find their company giving them siestas would more likely stay awake and do something else.

Hispanic culture is extremely superstitious.

Hispanics have passed down different rules from parent to child. They would warn their children from doing things in fear that it could cause damage to them or everyone else. Grandmothers, in particular, would warn their grandchildren of the dangers of doing a seemingly normal thing. Even as grown adults, most Hispanics retain these superstitions out of habit and fear.

It is unclear where the superstitions came from. Hispanic families can trace them down to folklores, stories from a distant relative’s experience, or even just something their grandma believed to be true. Most of us believed in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. However, we eventually realize that they don’t exist. Hispanic adults never grow out of these superstitions. Whether they practice them or not, the adults would feel that they are either disobeying and causing disrespect, do have benefits, or do believe in superstition as well.

An example of these superstitions is placing your bag on the floor. Hispanic elders believe that placing your bag on the floor will cause you to lose money. In addition, placing your bag on the floor may cause dirt to stick to it, making it simpler to just place it on a chair or table. Elders warn to never sweep on an unmarried woman’s feet as well. This is because Hispanics believe the unmarried woman will no longer be married if you do so. In terms of manners, it is commonly considered impolite to sweep above a person’s feet. Our last example would be giving scissors or knives to a family or couple. Elders believe this will end their relationship. At the same time, knives and scissors may be a dangerous gift should young children play with them.

Hispanic culture doesn’t obsess over punctuality.

Hispanic families aren’t as punctual as other cultures. While most people will arrive on time during important meetings, Hispanic countries consider being 10 to 30 minutes late acceptable.

They consider being late for up to 30 minutes from the proposed time as punctual. This applies to family gatherings, outings with friends, and even business meetings. However, unlike in American culture, Hispanic people do not set an end-of-time date. This means that a meeting can last longer than an hour or two depending on the conversation. While they may arrive late to the scheduled time, they will possibly finish with an unknown time period as well.

Hispanic Generational Unit
Source: Pixabay

Respecting elders is mandatory in Hispanic culture.

Unlike Americans, Hispanic culture places a great deal on authority. Hispanics follow respecto, which is a custom of respect with strangers and elders. This means if you meet someone who is older than you or reached a higher education status, you must refer to them as senor, senora, don, or dona.

Hispanic people give elders the highest amount of respect. Following the grandparents would be the eldest child, usually the eldest male. Most Hispanic families would run to the eldest male when they don’t know what to do. As a result, the eldest male approves of the schools, the financial goals, and the medical treatments of the family. However, modern Hispanic families no longer consider gender for this authority.

Young Hispanic people learn to never be rude to their elders. Since they are the youngest, they rarely have big responsibilities. The children learn how to care for the family and their responsibilities as they grow older. Eventually, when they become elders, these children would teach what they were taught and more to the next generation.

The movie Encanto features Hispanic culture.

Disney’s movie Encanto explores Hispanic culture very well. It is set in Colombia and tells the different struggles each family member experiences. Just like typical Hispanic families, the characters live all together in one large house. Mirabel’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all live together with different roles to play. Their abuela, or the grandmother, is the strict head of their family.

Encanto features many Hispanic items and practices as well. An example would be the traditional Colombian clothing for both genders. The females would wear La Pollera Colora, which features a colorful skirt, a round neck blouse, and matching shoes. The movie also references meals with Hispanic influence such as the arepa, which can be seen eaten by the main character, Mirabel.

Disney also includes the traditional way of courtship in Hispanic families. Mariano courts Isabella, the eldest daughter of the family throughout the movie. Abuela Madrigal and Mariano’s mother were always present whenever the two were interacting. Hispanic culture is very sensitive about young males and females mingling alone. As a result, Mariano even proposes to Isabella in front of the families as well.

Hispanic culture is extremely friendly.

You won’t find families as friendly as Hispanic families. In Hispanic culture, it is common to welcome friends and acquaintances with open arms rather than distance. Hispanic families make sure their guests are well-fed and well-entertained.

People with Hispanic influence are naturally joyous as well. This is because Hispanic culture teaches us to hold large gatherings, and parties, and celebrate many things. Anyone who experienced Hispanic culture is used to joyous occasions and finds the little things worth celebrating.

Telenovelas are a part of Hispanic culture.

Telenovelas are an integral part of Hispanic identity. Unfortunately, people criticize them because of their extremely twisted plots, exaggerated acting, and ridiculous production values. It’s very common to find jokes made out of telenovelas. However, Hispanic people enjoy watching them despite being well aware of these criticisms for two reasons.

The first reason is communication. Telenovelas usually have love and vengeance in the mix as well. At first, you might feel that the shows are cringe-worthy. However, the more you watch telenovelas, the more you become engrossed in how the characters will resolve their issues. Discussing theories of the outcome is a pastime for many Hispanic people. As a result, telenovelas become a conversation starter between friends and even strangers.

Additionally, Hispanic people relate to the characters themselves. Many telenovelas center around women, men, children, and their struggles. All of the characters in each telenovela feature a strong point that Hispanic people and fans of telenovelas relate to. This makes it easier to root for their character of choice and find common ground with others who relate to the character they like as well.

Married couples have godparents.

You don’t need to find godparents for babies alone. Hispanic culture has married couples searching for godparents as well. Godparents in Hispanic culture are called madrinas and padrinos. These godparents sponsor the couples’ expenses at weddings and even offer advice throughout their marriage.

Traditionally, the godparents participate during the wedding ceremony. Madrinas and padrinos would help the couple during the lasso event, with the wedding veil, the bouquet, and the coins. Godparents also give gifts to the couple, the Virgin Mary, and the priest.

Cinco De Mayo is about Mexicans winning against the French army, not their Independence.

Cinco De Mayo, which translates to May 5, is an annual celebration in Mexico. Mexicans celebrate the Battle of Puebla to honor the miraculous victory they achieved against the French on May 5, 1862. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco De Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. The battle was between Mexico’s President, Benito Juarez, and the French President Napoleon III.

Cinco De Mayo is mostly celebrated in two locations. The first location is Puebla, Mexico where the battle and the celebration originated from. The second location would be in North America where Mexican Americans prepare large parties to celebrate it.

The victorious battle boosted the morale of many Mexican citizens. Unfortunately, Napoleon III won the war and placed Maximilian I as Mexico’s emperor. Mexico does regain its independence in 1867.

Cinco De Mayo Decorations
Image from Pixabay

Mexicans are extremely protective of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, is considered the patroness of Mexico. Saint Juan Diego, an Aztec who converted to Christianity, saw Mary’s apparition twice on December 9 and 12 in the year 1531. Mary instructs Juan Diego to build a shrine of hers on Tepeyac Hill. Juan reports this to the bishop who requests that Mary give him another sign to ensure that this is her will. Juan sees Mary once more, who tells him to collect roses and bring them to the bishop upon their second meeting. Once the bishop and Juan met, Juan opened his cloak filled with flowers to reveal Mary’s image imprinted on the cloak. People now worship this image in the Basilica of Guadalupe.

To Mexicans, Our Lady of Guadalupe served as a symbol of peace and love. From 1736 to 1737, an endemic consisting of hemorrhagic fever was damaging Mexico’s population and economy. The citizens who prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe believed that she gave them mercy and ended the endemic.

She is also the symbol that is known to have encouraged the Mexicans to rebel for their independence. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was the first to use her image in the name of Mexico. Costilla and his group cried out, “Long Live Our Lady of Guadalupe!” before battling the Spanish in 1810. Emilio Zapata’s group also used her image during the rebellion.

Because of her longstanding relationship with Mexico, many Mexicans protect her dignity and image with fierce loyalty. Whether they know what she had done for them in the past doesn’t really matter. Their attachment to the Virgin of Guadalupe is a birthright that most of them quickly adapt to.

Colombia’s Festival of the Flowers has become an internationally-famous festival.

Colombia’s Festival of the Flowers, also known as Silleteros, garners a lot of attention between tourists and locals alike. An estimated 26,000 viewers come to Medellin, the site of the festival, every year to see the floral arrangements scattered across the windows, streets, balconies, and parades.

Medellin, the capital city of Antioquia, is second to the largest exporter of flowers in the entire world. The most popular flower exported from Medellin is the orchids. As a result, tourists also flock to Santa Elena, the origin of the wildflowers used during the festival.

Arturo Uribe proposed the Festival of Flowers in 1957 as a celebration of the country’s flower industry. He specifically invited the gardeners of Santa Elena to participate. The first few events started with only one flower exhibition, a parade, a pageant, and a musical concert.

Nowadays, the Festival of the Flowers has famous Colombians hosting concerts during the festival, an expo regarding their orchids alone, the Ritmo de Bicicleta, which features everyone riding bikes across the city, fireworks, parades, classic cars, cooking lessons, horses, and art exhibitions.

The Argentine Tango is a mixture of different cultures.

Hispanic culture is usually mixed not only with Spanish influence, but by the French, the Dutch, and the Africans as well. The Argentine tango is an excellent example of the blending that occurs. Professional dancers believe that the Argentine Tango is a dance solely between two people and their intimacy. This means that the dance can only move when it involves the heart and not the pair’s movements. Unlike other dances, the Argentine tango can only be successful if you have a real connection with your partner.

Argentina, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Uruguay play a hand in the dance’s creation. It was influenced by the African dance candombe, waltz, polka dance, and the Cuban dance, habanera.

During its early years, former slaves, lower to middle-class families, and immigrants performed the Argentine tango exclusively. The dance became a form of connection to the homeland and allowed those who felt lost in their new country to find others with the same background as them.

Historically, Argentina once prohibited dancing the Argentine tango under a series of dictatorships. Performers continued to dance the Argentine tango in secret. Dancers were only legally allowed to dance the Argentine tango again by the 1980s.

Argentine Tango
Image from You Tango

There was a time the Americans were desperate for the Mexicans to immigrate.

We all know the longstanding difficulties to immigrate America. And Hispanic people and those of Caucasian descent in North America immigrating is still a sensitive topic. There was a time, however, when the tables turned.

The United States reversed its policies and behavior toward Mexicans in 1941. War is expensive and the labor force in the United States was low due to the men leaving for war. American farmers needed help and pleaded with the government to find employees willing to work for low pay.

As a result, the United States and Mexico created the bracero, also known as the laborer program. This program was publicized as an encouragement by the United States for Mexican citizens to travel across the border and earn money. The pay and living conditions were poor, but many Mexicans agreed with the deal. Abuse was also not unheard of, with the government refusing to approve Mexican laborers to travel to Texas due to the states’ consistent reports of harassment towards them. The program ended in 1964, past the original duration, and contributed to the Mexican influence in the United States.

The words Latin and Hispanic have different meanings.

The United States government added the word “Hispanic” to refer to Spanish-speaking countries. We also know now that someone can be Latin but not Hispanic, and vice versa. But did you know that the words themselves originated from different places and mean different things?

The word “Latin” originated from the Italic tribal group Latini near Latium in 10 B.C. The Latini tribe spoke their language called Latin. European countries such as Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and Romania used the Latin language to evolve their own, eternally becoming associated with the Latin language.

When the French Emperor Napoleon III attempted to control the Latin American countries, he referred to the area as Latin America. The emperor and his council believed that by referring to the locals as Latin Americans they would have a sense of connection.

The word “Hispanic” itself is from the Latin language. It came from the word Hispanicus. Ancient Romans referred to people from the Iberian Peninsula Hispania as Hispanicus. The word changed during the 19th century in the United States. Americans now referred to people with Spanish blood that arrived before the annexation as Hispano.

Pachucos helped evolved the Mexican American Culture.

A Pachuco was a Mexican Hispanic youth who lived during the late 19th century up to the early 20th century. During that time it was easy to spot male pachucos because of their favorite attire: the zoot suits. The females, known as pachucas, on the other hand, wore platform shoes and had pompadours.

The Pachuco subculture was a statement refusing complete assimilation into American culture. Instead, they blended Mexican and American cultures. They even had their own language called “Calo”.

Unfortunately, many pachucos were considered gangsters. The Calo language made them look suspicious along with their activities. Police discovered a few members of the pachuco subculture participating in illegal activities such as drugs and murder. This led to the racist belief that all pachucos and pachucas were part of a gang with evil intentions.

White folk disliked anyone who is Mexican or Hispanic as a result. The United States didn’t think much of it until World War II began. The government prohibited the creation of zoot suits to use all materials for funding the war. However, Pachucos managed to get new suits through black markets. This angered the government and its military personnel. Physical abuse, illegal detention, and even abduction of those wearing zoot suits.

The zoot suit riots began with physical retaliation. This led to the discussion of the violence pachucos were capable of by the media. They were unjustly portrayed as defiant rebels with illegal activities.

In the 1960s, the Chicano movement was born. The Chicano movement was inspired by the zoot suit riots, laying the groundwork for equal rights for Mexican Americans. Zoot suits and the pachuco subculture of refusing American control have been adopted into activism since then.

Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic have different traditions during funerals.

There are other ways of funeral practices within Hispanic culture. Most people know about the Day of the Dead alone. However, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic have different ways unique to their own culture.

Puerto Ricans hold standing funerals. The deceased in their culture are posed in positions they were often in during their life. This practice is unlike most funeral rites where the departed are laid down to mimic sleeping. Instead, they celebrate and honor the way their loved ones chose to live by seeing their bodies placed in the way they always used to. An example of a standing ritual is posing the deceased loved one as if they are playing video games, taking pictures, or riding motorcycles.

Another unique funeral practice is the Cuban practice. Cubans bury their dead just 24 hours after their death. In those 24 hours, the children related to the deceased will hover over the dead to symbolize caring for the body.

The Dominican Republic also practices a unique funeral rite. Dominicans have nine days to mourn. These nine days are split into three days. The first set would be used to grieve, the second would be for silence, and the last set would be for acceptance. This extended wake is known to have African roots.

The Santeria religion comes from Cuba.

Santeria is a religion with many names. It is often called the Rule of Osha, La Regla Lucum, and the Way of the Saints. Cubans fused two religions to create Santeria. The first religion would be Yoruba, from Africa. The second religion is Christianity, originating from Spain. Many Hispanic countries have begun adopting the religion. An example of these countries would be Brazil and Panama.

Santeria is a religion that worships saints, also known as orishas. They believe that all of us individually have a purpose designed by God. Followers of the Santerian religion would need to practice rites such as animal sacrifice to symbolize their devotion and converse with the orishas.

The Santeria religion believes in Jesus Christ. However, they call Christ by the name Olofi. The Virgin Mary also has a counterpart to the Santeria religion. Followers of Santeria call her Orisha, Orisa, or Yemaya.

Aside from animal sacrifices, Santeria has rituals that allow the practitioners to receive communication with the Orishas. They have drumming, dancing, eating, and actual conversations with their Orishas. However, despite having many followers, their religion does not have many buildings for their faith.

There is a difference in culture between Hispanic Americans and Hispanics from their homeland.

When it comes to coming back to the homeland, arguments between Americanized Hispanics and their local relatives are common. This traces back to the Hispanic definition. Hispanic is a term used to describe descendants from a Spanish-influenced country. However, Hispanic Americans are those who have adapted to the United States with Hispanic blood. This would mean that those with Hispanic ethnicity and their Americanized relatives have different and similar values and traditions that clash with one another.

Children of Hispanic American origin are known to visit their homeland over the summer should their family be able to afford it. Whether these children have been visiting since they were young or only first returned to the homeland in their teens, clashes between cultures are often the cause of arguments.

Hispanic American families who have adapted to the American culture may be confused with the traditions that their relatives follow. An example of this would be the Puerto Rican superstition of “Sereno”. Concerned relatives will insist that children and infants must be protected from a breeze in the evening that brings sickness.

Hispanic Americans, especially those living in colder regions of the United States, may find this ridiculous. Hispanic Americans living in states such as New York may feel the Puerto Rican weather to be too humid to cover up. Because of the lack of communication, the locals would find their Americanized relatives to be disrespectful instead.

Hispanic Heritage Month
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The United States of America prioritizes Hispanic people for Hispanic Heritage Month.

One of the many Hispanic Heritage Month fun facts is that it started out as Hispanic Heritage Week. President Lyndon Johnson declared Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. Twenty years later, President Ronald Reagan expands the event to 30 days. Finally, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed Hispanic Heritage Month to last 31 days starting from September 15 to October 15 a day before festivities began on 1989. Since then, Hispanic Americans have been celebrating Hispanic culture during these days for 40 years.