Religion can be a touchy subject, but many Latinos are no strangers to religion. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate cultural traditions from religious celebrations. For example, quinceañeras are a popular tradition in the Latina culture. The core of the quinceañera tradition is rooted in church service by marking the transition from niña to señorita as well as the commitment to GOD, but over the years it has shifted from being a commitment to God to throwing a memorable fiesta to commemorate womanhood and a 15th birthday. This fiesta centered shift has caused many Latinos to see quinceañeras, especially teens, as a cultural tradition instead of a religious one.
Where do religious and cultural traditions start, separate, or end?
It doesn’t matter what religion you are: Catholic, Protestant, or Christian, Latinos love their Diosito and is embedded in our Latino culture. This begs the question, are Latinas religious because they want be or because they are Latina? Culture, as defined by Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, is “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a group.” Everyone knows that being a Latino is a culture; however, it can be said that being religious, in the Latino culture, is as social form.
Take Leticia for example, her faith isn’t something she came across on her own, it was something she was taught since childhood. Leticia Gonzalez says she grew up going to church as child. “It was never a question. It was just something that had to be done,” states Leticia. And now, even after not having gone to church for over three years, she still lights a candle for the Virgin Mary every Sunday. “I don’t know why I do, I just know I should and I can’t help it,” claims Leticia.
Ashley Tate, a multi-racial Latina understands how it feels to have religion encouraged by her family. “Whenever I spent the holidays with my mom’s family they were not only very Mexican, but also very religious. I always thought it was weird because my mom never goes to church.” Ashley says she considers herself Christian, but whenever overcome with grief she does the sign of the cross, a catholic practice. “I’m not confused by my faith, but doing the sign of the cross is something I’ve done since I was little, even when I didn’t understand why.”
Regardless of why a Latina is religious or if she is religious at all, it cannot be ignored that the church is no stranger in the Latino culture.