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Changing traditions of Latin American festivities

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By Emma Le Breton

28 December 2021

 

Christmas is a time where many of us celebrate traditions.

 

Over centuries, the traditions associated with Christmas have changed and developed from what they once were, to what we hold important to us today.

 

So how has Christmas changed throughout the years?

 

From decorated trees to reindeer and stockings, our Christmas favourites are rich with culture.

 

Traditions are an important part of the culture, that make people feel safe, connected, and seen.

 

Not just celebrated once a year, they create guidelines and rules that families learn by, as well as bringing joy, and reflection.

 

Some Christmas traditions, wildly celebrated in Latin America, are almost exclusive to their countries of birth, creating special connections with the culture.

 

Photo by: Mamas Latinas

 

One example being of this is Posadas, A way of remembering the story of Mary and Joseph's attempts to find shelter for the night.

 

“In Puerto Rico, the posada processions have Christmas carolers going from house to house, while in Mexico and Guatemala, groups parade through town, knocking on doors, and asking for lodging as they sing and chant songs,” says Britney Clare.

 

“Some posada processions are very elaborate and include a person dressed as Mary riding a donkey and people playing musical instruments.

 

When the group representing Joseph and Mary are allowed in, they all enter the home and sing together in unison, or gather around the Nativity to pray.”

 

Pinatas are also a Latin holiday favourite, but their origins, few know of.

 

Originally having seven points to represent the seven deadly sins, a blindfold representing faith, and the sweets inside representing the gifts Heaven, pinatas are now used festively all year round.

 

Whilst now they usually represent fun, sharing and festivity the traditions have changed over the years.

 

From Yule logs, representing landlords gifting wood to their tenants when a child is born to advent calendars once revealing Bible passages and now chocolates as a way to excite children on the countdown to Christmas, traditions change with culture.

 

Colombian cheese fritters by: The Spruce Eats

 

Gifts, once used to represent the gifting of presents to the baby Jesus, is now a tradition used to appreciate the family around us, showing them we understand their needs and will go above and beyond for their joy.

 

Many now use Christmas as a time to celebrate and give thanks for what they love most, which is the same attitude that has carried through the years with changing tradition.

 

Despite changes, the sentiment behind traditions often remains similar, waiting to be discovered, and reflects our culture and values.