Favorite Cultural Traditions

Chicas share their favorite cultural tradition. 

“My favorite Mexican culture tradition is the food. Which is not exactly a tradition, but it’s the best thing ever.

Mexican food is great! What I love the most about it is how there’s a classic dish that we all love at every family gathering. This is what makes me feel happy, not only for enjoying the food, but also because of what it means. After years and years of trying different types of food, nothing tastes as good as Mexican food to me. I always go back to tacos (the real ones), to enchiladas, mole or whatever is on the table.

Mexican food makes me proud because it is recognized everywhere in the world. This food is from where I belong. Mexican food is best prepared in my home country and, even if someday I get to be far from home, I’ll always remember my family and my hometown because of it.” – Fandi Zapien, 19

 

“My grandmother has always been devoted to La Virgen de Guadalupe. Since we were young she taught us her story, her prayers and how much faith she had in her.

I remember loving when December 12 would come around. Buñuelos, calientitos, champurrado, and posole were some of the food items that were never missing. My favorite part, of course, were the matachines guadalupanos, dancers that would move to the beat of the drums. They would make  so much noise with their colorful attires with every step they took. Also, they would dance in front of a statue of La Virgen de Guadalupe, decorated with flowers and twinkly lights, and would carry her with so much love and care and would dance for her and in her honor. Then, these men dressed in black and with very peculiar masks would dance around, play tricks on people and try to distract the dancers with no success. My mother would tell me it was all part of the performance and it would reassure everyone’s faith.

I also loved how the whole neighborhood would gather around. After the dancers performed they were invited to eat with us. We would serve them and everyone would eat together all the delicious food my grandmother and her vecinas cooked all day long.

At that age I only understood that it was a religious tradition. Something my grandmother, tías, mom, and everyone I knew, had so much faith in. When I grew up I learned more about it. Why people dance for her, why they continue to have faith in her and her whole story, which many don’t know goes way back to when her name was actually Tonantzin. I was so glad to find out that this was something that connected us to our indigenous roots, something I’ve always loved, and it only made me love this day and her story even more.

Now it is my favorite tradition. To me it is more than a religious ceremony or event. It is about family traditions, cultural values and indigenous roots. Things I believe one should never forget.” – Itzel Barraza, 24

 

“My favorite cultural tradition is September 16. I love Mexican food, so I really enjoy this celebration, as well as the dances. I think that this celebration makes people who are far from Mexico become close with their beloved country. The food is so delicious! I love the taquitos, enchiladas, churros, entomatadas, the beverages like limonada, jamaica. GOD! I can go over everything. I really enjoy that people dress as charros and adelitas. I mean, what other cultural tradition can be better than this one? If I were far from my Mexico, this would be the tradition that I would celebrate to get close to my culture. Mexico has many rich and colorful cultural traditions that make it unique and special.” – Ariadne Venegas, 23

 

“My favorite part about my culture is definitely the food. It’s what makes me, me. I love it, I worship it! (not really) but it is awesome! The Enchiladas, the tacos, tostadas, the spiciness, flautas, guacamole, and everything in between! When I think of the food, my face transforms into the emoji with the heart eyes and a smile!– Polet Espinoza, 23

Finding Your Identity

Chicas share how they found their identity through their culture. 

“There was a time in my life where I was confused and hurt, to the point of being embarrassed, of being Latina. I felt this all the way up to high school. I didn’t get the racist remarks that were being thrown around, especially hurtful comments coming from other Latinos.

I don’t think anybody wants to be targeted just because of hate full stereotypes. So growing up and listening to people blaming things like the economy on immigrants or “go back to your country,” was pretty hard to swallow.

The way that I began to accept and see my heritage in a positive light was to respect and admire my parents. They are the epitome of hard workers in a country where their heritage is ridiculed. Once I realized the amazing sacrifice they made for my family, it was the moment when I stopped being ashamed. This of course applies to all parents from Latin American countries, where some of us wouldn’t even be here.

The next step was something that I already followed. This was appreciating the beauty of my culture. I mean in the telenovelas are the bomb, well some of them, especially comedic ones like La Fea Más Bella. I’ve always loved Mexico’s beautiful scenery and its various cities.

Another thing that helped me was to know that one’s culture is so much more than what the haters have to say, who really are just full of ignorance. When you are really full of positivity there is not much to pull you out of there.” –Sarai Melchor, 21

 

 

 

“My parents and I have always identified as Hispanic. Despite my grandparents being from Mexico (except for my Chinese maternal grandfather), my parents grew accustom to the culture where they were born and raised in: Belize. For those of you who do not know, Belize is the only country in Central America that doesn’t have Spanish as the official language; however, more than 50% of Belizeans’ first language is Spanish and identifies as Hispanic/Latino. Much like the United States, Belize is a multicultural nation, and the term Hispanic is prominently used to describe someone from a Spanish-speaking family.

The first time I self-identified as Latina instead of Hispanic was in the fourth grade. It started when a bleach blonde-haired boy asked me the common question: “What are you?”

I could’ve answered human and pranced away like a clever goddess, but 10-year old me wasn’t quite yet fluent in quick sarcasm.

“I’m Asian — and Latina,” I answered cautiously.

My schoolchildren peers’ eyes widened in shock. Their reactions were similar to if I had blurted one of the seven words you should never say on television (by the way, don’t look that up, kiddos!). However, their expressions went from shock to slight disgust quickly.

“Isn’t that, like.. I thought that…that’s a bad word,” stumbled the bleach blonde-haired boy.

A bad word? I thought. I stood there quietly (I was an extremely timid child).

The now-blushing, naive bleach blonde-haired boy continued, “Well, you know, that is used for dirty girls.. BIG girls.. like, women.. who are, you know.. they’re in those music videos and other dirty videos.. and they’re oily and they try to be s-e-x-y.”

If someone was to say that to the present-day me, I would’ve sit them down and school them with my Big Book of Radical Intersectional Feminism: The Woke Latina Edition (coming to a hippie book fair near you!). But 10-year old me just walked away.

I think the media’s portrayal of Latinas is partially to blame for the contribution of the bleach-blonde haired boy’s offensive perception of Latinas. We are often stereotyped as sultry mistresses, and if we’re not the sultry mistress, we are the “no-speak-English” maids. For example, the talented Columbian actress Sofia Vergara, mostly known for her character, Gloria, in the tv series Modern Family, can be incredibly funny. But I’ve noticed her skits on award shows or other tv specials misuses her sexuality as the main focus.

And I’m not suggesting that celebrating your body is dehumanizing. Some women are empowered by showing more skin and embracing their sexuality, and that’s absolutely okay! But it shouldn’t define Latinas as a whole. We are more than sexiness. I naturally break Latina stereotypes by being extremely quiet and dressing conservatively, but I don’t think young Latinas should focus on breaking stereotypes because it pressures young girls to assimilate with American culture for acceptance. I want to be remembered as a kind person who loved literature, social justice, and animals. And the way I dress, whether it’s conservative or exposing, and the way I talk, chatty or soft, shouldn’t contribute to who I am. (Take notes, little bleach blonde-haired boy!)

As for labeling myself Latina or Hispanic, I embrace both terms. I am Latina because my grandparents are from Latin America, and I am Hispanic because I grew up in a Spanish-speaking family. But in my heart and my blood, I am of East Asian (Chinese) and Indigenous (Mayan) descent, and I proudly identify as that.” – Kayla Alamilla, 17

Haunted: Legends of Our Past

One part of our culture is the leyendas or legends that are passed down throughout the time. As legends are passed through the grape vine each person, family, or even city has different versions of legends. Legends were once used to pass time or even scare children into behaving. Legends are an important part of our culture and are fun to talk about at anytime.

La Llorna:
“The crying woman” which is the literal translation of the phrase, is one of the most infamous leyenda. Though there are many versions of the story they all tell of a woman drowning her children either in sorrow, insanity, or selfishness. The tale most commonly goes that a young beautiful Mexican woman fell in love with a Spaniard, they had two children together. She waited and waited for him to make her his wife but that day never came. One day she decided she could hold her silence no more and traveled to his house to talk to him of their future. Upon her arrival she saw a fiesta (party) going on; it was her Spaniard’s wedding celebration to another woman. She was incredibly heartbroken and in a fit of insanity she drowned her children in the nearby river. She later realized what she had done and was cursed to wander the earth forever searching for her children. Some versions say that she drowned her children because she was waiting for her husband who never returned or that she wanted to rid herself of the burden the children caused. Each version warns children to not be out late at night because La Llorna searches each night for her lost children.

La Calle de la Quemada:
This legend despite its title (“the street of the burnt woman”) is not haunting like most legends, but instead tells the love story between Doña Beatriz and Martin Scipoli. Doña Beatriz was the most beautiful girls in her town; she easily charmed all men and had many suitors. Her father constantly pestered her to marry one of the men that loved her but she did not love any of them. One day she met a young Italian by the name of Don Martin Scipoli and they instantly fall in love. Soon the couple reaches turmoil as Don Martin is incredibly jealous and fights with everyman who looks at Beatriz. Doña Beatriz grows fearful that he only loves her for her beauty and decides to create a test. She places a wet handkerchief on her eyes and buries her face in coals becoming incredibly disfigured. Upon seeing her Don Martin does not act disgusted but instead ask her to marry him. They loved each other and neither one ever lived in fear again.

Pascualita:
There once was a clothing store in Chihuahua and the owner of the store (Pascuala Esparza) was said to have one of the most beautiful daughters in all of Mexico. Her daughter was soon to be married and on her wedding day tragedy struck, she was bitten by a black widow. Pascuala sunk into a depression and the store was closed for weeks. When the store re-opened everyone was in raptures over a new mannequin placed at the largest window in the store. The mannequin was incredibly beautiful and looked very life like. Soon people began to wonder about the mannequin because its eyes seemed to follow you and sometimes people swore it would come to life by smiling or winking at you. It was said that Pascuala found it difficult to part with her daughter that she preserved her body in the form of a mannequin.

By Ytzel McDaniel

Soy Bilingüe

 These Latina women tell their story and the experiences they’ve had growing up in a world where they have to balance two different cultures and two different languages. Some have more experience speaking English and Spanish, but being Mexican-Americans and coming from Latino families, they all agree that living between both worlds and both languages just became part of their normal lives.

Bianca Castrejon grew up in El Paso Texas. Her grandparents and father grew up in Mexico; being second generation in the United States, English is her first language. She shares that in school, speaking English was a requirement while speaking Spanish was punished, yet because her family spoke to her in Spanish she is familiar with both.

Because my family speaks a lot of Spanish, there’s some words that I know in Spanish better than I know in English. Sometimes I’ll be mixing the two even though Spanish is not my first language,” Bianca shares.

Bianca is not the only one to mix these two languages; many agree that living in an area with such a strong Latino culture, it becomes a normal thing. Evelyn, who lives in a bilingual home, feels more comfortable speaking English. She comments on her views of those who speak this new language, Spanglish.

“Most people that do speak Spanglish are learning English, they went to school in Mexico and then came over here. They can’t just pick up English so they mix it. I don’t see a problem with it, Spanish is their language and they are trying to catch English,” she adds.

Sharlenne Zubia, who feels that she is fluent in both languages, grew up in the border region of the United States and mixes both frequently.

“I’ll say something like quiero esos red shoes, I’ll mix English and Spanish,” she says.

When asked if she thought this was okay she responded that “as long as you can communicate, I think it’s fine.” She explains everyone in her community find this normal.

With 41 million native speakers in the United States plus an additional 11.6 bilingual speakers, all women feel that knowing both languages and being bilingual has now become a great advantage.

Vanessa Ramirez, who speaks Spanish at home and English at school shares that “when you apply for a job, they prefer the ones who are bilingual.”

These women are not only used to hearing and using both languages, but looking back at history and how the world has become highly globalized, it should then come as no surprise that surely knowing both languages is a positive thing. Yet, some of the girls share some of their negative experiences when accidentally mixing both when speaking.

Ariadne Venegas was born in El Paso Texas yet continues to live in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. She spends a lot of time in the United States and actually started learning English when she was in kindergarten. Even though Spanish is her first language, spending so much time in the United States has resulted in some English words occasionally slipping out.

Porque ya paso la mayoria del tiempo aquí. But it’s not because I want to. Like, I can’t remember the word in Spanish,” she shares.

She says that at times, doing this, brings negative remarks from Spanish speakers.

[My dad] he would tell me don’t use both languages because you will be called chicana…that’s why I refer it as a bad thing because my dad put me into that culture, mixing both languages I would be called chicana, but I mean I kind of don’t like the word because nobody should be called that way, I mean, it’s a culture, it’s just a culture,” she adds.

When it comes to culture, sometimes mixing both languages creates challenges.

I’m always being called white cause I’m mixing both languages,” Sharlenne says.

Bianca believes that because of this reason “being multicultural is a challenge.”

Not everyone is going to understand, because you’re coming from a different culture and you’re managing two cultures and not everyone is going to be understanding and tolerant of the language…it comes with its ups and downs….that’s probably where the issue kind of lies because people think black or white, either or, so pick one,” adds Bianca.

It’s like a double work for us because we have to learn Spanish and then we have to learn English,” says Ariadne.

Still, after experiencing some of these negative reactions, all agreed that they were proud of being Latinos in the United States and having the opportunity of sharing both cultures and both languages. Additionally, they comment on how they are proud and would even teach their children and the future generations to be bilingual.

The Latino culture is now expanding so more people are speaking the Spanish language,” adds Ariadne.

That’s just the result of somebody balancing two cultures, living here in America but having your roots and family in Mexico. And that’s just the result, speaking Spanglish,” comments Bianca.

Being bilingual is something valued greatly in this globalized world, and having multiple cultures should be something to be proud of. While before, Latinos in the United States were forced to forget their roots and language, now they can hold on to their origins and still belong to the American culture and society.

All for One and One for All

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Just like Oprah Winfrey says: “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you, always.” That’s the case for 3 women who came from different backgrounds and made huge changes in history. Manuela Solis Sager, Emma Tenayuca, and Luisa Moreno Manuela are activists who joined thousands of workers to speak up and fight for their rights.

Manuela Solis Sager, Emma Tenayuca and Luisa Moreno led Mexican workers’ movements in Texas during the 1930’s. Each of these women had a key role in one of the most famous conflicts of Texas labor history: “The 1930 strike at the Southern Pecan Shelling Company.”  In the course of the strike, thousands of workers in more than 130 plants opposed to a wage reduction, which was one cent per pound of shelled pecans. Sager, Tenayuca, and Moreno led the way for many who were hopeless and who had been mistreated by tyrants in farming, agriculture and in big factories. The women went out of their way, without caring about the risks involved, to pursue freedom and fair rights for men and women.

Manuela Solis  Sager 

Manuela Solis  Sager was a Texas activist who married a man who helped to organize garment and agricultural workers in Laredo, TX.  She became one of the first official organizers of the South Texas Agricultural Workers’ Union (STAWU) and worked in the Rio Grande Valley, which is considered to be one of the most challenging places to run. Manuela and her husband, James, played very important roles in a labor dispute involving the Mexican pecan shellers — the majority happened to be women. Manuela Solis Sager routed her conviction for human rights into activism. During her life, she was involved with the Chicano Movement, a women’s movement, immigrant rights, and opposition to U.S. interventionist foreign policy.

Emma Tenayuca

Emma Tenayuca, a Mexican-American, was known for being a labor leader, an union organizer and an educator. Tenayuca was brought up in a large family of eleven and lived with her grandparents at an early age to ease the economic hardship of her family. Emma was born into a Tejana family who were victims of the independence and the U.S.-Mexico War. Unfortunately, Emma and her family were affected by the Depression, but this became an eye opener for Emma Tenayuca to see the struggle of the low-class workers.

Luisa Moreno

Luisa Moreno belonged to a wealthy family in Guatemala City, Guatemala. As a teen she assembled “La Sociedad Gabriela Mistral,” where she successfully performed as a leader. Moreno turned down her elite lifestyle and decided to pursue a career in journalism in Mexico City. She brought workers together in unions, directed strikes, wrote pamphlets in English and Spanish, and gathered the 1939 Congreso de Pueblos de Habla Española, which become the first national Latino civil rights assembly.

Like these women, don’t be afraid of dreaming big. Instead use fear to empower you to defeat challenges in your life and to reach your desires and goals.

5 Reasons to be Proud of Your Roots

5 Reasons to be Proud of Your Roots

You should be proud of your roots whether you were born abroad or here in the U.S. or whether you speak Spanish or just understand a few words.  But why?

Appreciate the journey that has helped shape you.
For many Latinos, their journey to come to the U.S. was motivated with the goal of making a better future for their children. It is important to value the sacrifice your parents, grandparents or ancestors made to get to this country. You arrived to this country and your current living situation because our families wanted a better quality of life than the ones they had when they were young.

“Thanks to the fact that my parents came to this country, I have access to better education and now I’m in college and ready to work on something that I like,” says Delia Ponce, age 19.

Delia’s family moved from Mexico to give her more opportunities. We should all appreciate the opportunities and resources available to us because of the sacrifices your family made.

Latinos come from a “warm” culture
Latinos are known for expressing their emotions and being a warm community. “I go to family parties and people are always hugging and kissing and even aunts and cousins that I don’t know receive me like I’ve known them my whole life,” says Lucia Cazarez, age 18. It is commonly said that Latinos are really affectionate and that they can receive new people as if they’ve known them for many years. And they don’t feel embarrassed about public display of affection, many can prove this just by trying to hug their mom or at a family reunion just as Lucia previously stated.

The Delicious Food
“My culture is delicious,” says Polet Espinoza, age 20. “My favorite part about my culture is definitely the food. It’s what makes me, me. I love it. The Enchiladas, the tacos, tostadas, the spiciness, flautas, guacamole, and everything in between. When I think of the food, my face transforms into the emoji with the heart eyes and a smile!” she adds.

The great thing about food is that every country has some dishes that make them different from the rest of the world. The flavors are so distinctive from other countries. How can you be proud of the food? Older family members can pass on their historic family recipes and teach you how to make those traditional dishes that you can share with your family and friends.

We have amazing cultural traditions that have been passed down generations
It is good to learn about our history and celebrations, such as the Independence Day of Latin American countries and Dia de Muertos. These celebrations help our kids embrace their heritage, learn from it and identify with it.

“While growing up, my mom used to take the time to teach me all about the Mexican history. After school, I used to sit for hours listening to my mom telling me about important dates and traditions that she used to celebrate while growing up,” shares Emilia Serna, age 17. This has been true for many, and that is wonderful because kids grow up in one culture while belonging also to another. They become more aware of who they are and where they come from and of course, when they grow up they’ll have more stories to share.

It’s part of who you are.

“I’m thankful for being Mexican because I get to have the best of both worlds. I share two cultures and that makes me really happy. I’m not only part of one thing: one country, one ethnicity. I’m part of two great cultures and it’s amazing,” shares Pamela Herrera, age 18.

Being a part of two cultures can shape who you are. You share values and traditions with multiple cultures and that helps you see things from a different perspective. All that you’ve seen and been taught while growing up is part of who you are and of what you will become. Embrace everything that comes in your way!

First Latino Thanksgiving

On September 1620, a ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, with 102 passengers. In 1620, some of the pilgrims left in search of a new home where they could practice their faith and others left to a New World where they were promised land ownership. Once they crossed the Massachusetts Bay, the civilians, or Pilgrims, as we know them now, began to establish a village at Plymouth. In November 1621, a year later, the Pilgrims proved their first corn harvest successful and their Governor organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the colony’s Native American allies. And that is now known as Americans “First Thanksgiving”… Or so we think.

These settlers were thought to have been the original group to celebrate Thanksgiving, but some historians have discovered another Thanksgiving celebration that happened decades earlier. Even though the United States celebrates Thanksgiving in November, a new Thanksgiving tradition has grown in Texas. El Paso residents have now claimed the first Thanksgiving in North America. The event, first celebrated in April 1989, commemorates a day of thanksgiving celebrated by the Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate and his expedition on April 30th, 1598.

Oñate’s expedition consisted of 500 people crossing the Chihuahuan Desert from Zacatecas, Mexico. After going through many consecutive rainy days, then changing to an incredibly dry weather where the sight of water was far from their reach, they arrived to the Rio Grande, their salvation. And finally after ten days trying to get back on their feet, Oñate ordered a day of Thanksgiving for the survival of the expedition.

Proving that the official First Thanksgiving was actually discovered by Hispanics.

“I didn’t know that, I am incredibly proud of roots. This goes to prove that we, as Hispanics, are much more than we are given credit  for and that we are constantly learning something new,” says Ariadne, age 23.

“During Thanksgiving week, in November, I get to go home with my family and spend time with them. It’s a tradition to make turkey and pumpkin pie. I’m thankful for the times I get to spend with my family” says Danielle, 18.

While many Latinos celebrate the traditional Thanksgiving of the pilgrims, it is also important to remember the long heritage of Hispanics in America. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving in November with the Pilgrims or in April with the survivors. It is always good to be proud of where you come from, of your roots, and of the history.  These ancestors paved the way in order for you to be where you are right now. And let’s not forget to be thankful for the things that make us.

 

Dia de los Muertos

In Latin America, November 1st and 2nd are dedicated to honor those who have passed away. This tradition dates back to pre-Hispanic times before the arrival of the Europeans to the Americas and comes from the views and beliefs the indigenous had of death. The indigenous people of Mesoamerica believed that the passing away of someone was the start of a journey to Mictlán, the underworld. During the burials, the family of the deceased, would include the tools or objects they had used during their life as well as other objects that would help them during their journey to Mictlán. 1

Upon the arrival of the Europeans, these indigenous traditions mixed with their own belief of All Saints Day on November 1st. The synchronization of cultures brought what we know today as Día de los Muertos.

One of the main characteristics used now during the Day of the Dead is that of the altars made for our loved ones who have passed away. Those who form part of this tradition believe that their loved ones return during these days and the altars provide them with personal items as well as items that will aid them in their journey.

The altars are beautifully decorated, full of color, flowers and candles as well as other objects, all with very specific meanings and purpose.

They are traditionally of 3 specific levels: Those with 7 levels represent the 7 steps the soul has to go through in order to reach spiritual peace.The Aztecs believed there were 7 different destinies a soul could have. Those altars with 3 levels represent heaven, earth and the underworld, and two levels represent heaven and earth.

Each altar is also decorated with other typical items:

  • A photograph of the person who’s altar is made for is usually presented in the center.
  • Water is included to quench the thirst of the souls who visit after their long journey. It also represents pureness of the soul.
  • Candles are used to guide the souls to the altar.
  • Incense is used to purify the energy around the altar and many believe it keeps the bad spirits away.
  • Salt is also added to bring purity.
  • Flor de cempazuchitl or flor de muerto (marigold flower) is highly symbolic of this tradition and is used to decorate the altars, many times in the shape of an arc, a pathway or even a cross. These flowers are used to guide the spirits into our world. They were also used by the Aztecs who they believed their smell would bring back the spirits.
  • Papel Picado also decorates altars. These often have intricate designs of Calaveras or other shapes and symbols. They add color to the altar and some believe it is the connection between life and death.
  • Food and drinks, specially those who the deceased enjoyed during life are also part of the altar and of course all made for the spirit to enjoy. These dishes can also be the traditional meals of that time and place.
  • Pan de muerto, typical of these traditions is also present as well as a cross, many times made out of cempazuchitl flowers. These two elements represent the incorporation of the Catholic religion into these indigenous practices.
  • Altars also include sugar skulls which are decorated very colorful and are one of the most popular traditions during these celebrations.
  • Toys are often seen on altars as well if the spirit who is visiting is that of a child.
  • And many times little dog figurines are added to altars, which the indigenous people believed they served as companions to the souls who were on their journey.

During these days public places such as schools are filled with altars made for loved ones who have passed away, or even famous individuals who represent a culture or a cause. Many people make their altars at home or decorate cemeteries with some of these items. These altars form a connection not only to an ancestral past but also to those who are no longer with us. It is a way to remember them, remember our indigenous culture and a very distinct way of thinking about death.

Finding Your Rhythm

Dance allows for the creative expression to flow from your body. There are a variety of different Latin dances that root from different origins and can be mixed with contemporary choreography. In this article, I listed some of the more known Spanish dance styles along with some videos to try out yourself!

Bachata

Bachata is a style of social dance that originates from the Dominican Republic but has spread to all parts of the world. Often danced in a coupe, partners dance based on the rhythm of the different instruments played. Authentic dance from the Dominican Republic is based on a full 8 count moving in a square, but the Western world has modified it to a basic side to side step.

 

BachaTango was created with the fusion of dance from the western world with the addition of tango like steps to bachata. The pop count is used to make the dance more elaborate and sensual in Latin ballroom dance style. This seen more in ballroom performances than dance.

 

Salsa

Salsa originated in New York based off of Caribbean and African influences in the mid 1970s. Couples typically perform this dance together. It incorporates elements of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Caribbean dance moves. Based in Latin America, there are distinct dance styles of their own such as Cuban, Colombian, Puerto Rican, and New York styles.

Want to learn more? Check out the basic steps:

 

Maybe one day you’ll be this:

 

Samba

Samba is a lively, rhythmic Brazilian dance with roots in Africa via the West African slave trade. Samba in Brazil incorporates a distinct sound in music, associated with the drumming pattern typically seen as a musical expression of urban Rio de Janeiro people. Samba is usually seen in the media during Carnaval.

Take a look at samba during Carnival in the video below:

Cumbia:

Cumbia originated in Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region with the fusion of native colombias. Cumbia began as a courtship dance practice among the African population and later mixed with European steps. Cumbia is still danced in Colombia as both modern and traditional styles.

Traditional courtship: 

 

Merengue

Merengue is a style of Dominican music and dance that is dance closely in a pair. Merengue was made the official music and dance of the Dominican Republic by Rafael Trujilo. The dance originated from slaves in sugar beet fields. Partners hold each other in a closed position in which the leader holds the followers waist with the right hand and the left hand hold the followers hand. The hips of both partners go the same direction throughout the song.

 

 

 

Now that you know a couple new dance styles and moves, go out and try them! Have fun and try your best.

Dieciséis de Septiembre

In the United States, Independence Day is celebrated on July 4th because that is when Thomas Jefferson drafted a historic document to gain our Independence from Great Britain. In Mexico, May 5th has evolved with cultural celebrations leading us to think that their Independence was on this day. Although, “Cinco de Mayo” was the day the Mexican army declared victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, not Independence Day.

On September 16th 1810, a parish priest from Dolores, Miguel Hidalgo, called upon his parishioners to fight for their Independence. Today, every year on September 15th at midnight, people gather around in big crowds all over the country and give out “El Grito”, or shout, of “¡Viva Mexico!” to commemorate another year of Mexico’s Independence. Most of all, this shout reminds the people from Mexico of those who died for Mexico’s freedom.

“Every year my family and I cross the border to Mexico on September 15th to give out “El Grito”, the streets get flooded with people gathering and you can see red white and green all over the streets. It truly is something amazing, people of all ages are joined together, from month old babies to 90 year olds.” said Denis, 25.

No matter the age groups, people make plans to celebrate their country’s Independence. Even though some people only go for the parties and screaming, others are on the other side of the scale cherishing every moment of it.

“My first baby was born on September 10th 3 years ago and we still took him with us to Mexico as a 5 day old baby to celebrate with us, even though we had to be from afar instead of being inside the crowds. We don’t go for the screaming or the party, we go because it is a wonderful thing to see so many people caring for our beautiful Mexico and its history” said Gaby, 28.

“It is so much fun, I have never been to actual Mexico to celebrate Mexico’s Independence, but my family is Hispanic and we celebrate it here, in the United States. We throw a big party at my house filled with decorations and Hispanic music, we even hire mariachis to play at our party, it is a wonderful celebration to be able to celebrate another year of your country’s freedom” says Emily, 19.

Nowadays, both the 15th and 16th of September are celebrated to commemorate Mexico’s Independence. Similar to the 4th of July, the United States’ Independence Day, Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated with festivities including dancing, fireworks, parades, and performances. Get your sombreros out and celebrate Mexico’s Independence. ¡Viva Mexico!