I grew up in Catalunya just outside of Barcelona in a little village called L’Ametlla del Valles. One of the things I loved about growing up in Spain is how community is at the heart of Spanish culture. Community manifests itself in so many different ways – three hour long lunches, large extended families and a plethora of public holidays and festivals throughout the year. Most of my core memories from my childhood centre around these events and festivities, from the incredible Calcotada to making flower carpets at Corpus Christi festival, buying red roses at Sant Jordi, and hitting a log so it released presents during Caga Tio.
Below is an image of a traditional Catalan Festival – Festa Mayor, at the end of August. One to add to the bucket list for sure.
Argentina is well known for its passion for futbol, delicious meat and tasty wine. I think we are a mix of different cultures with pretty unique traditions at the same time.
What I love about my country is how rooted and solid our friendships are, and also our strong devotion for [coffee drink] ‘mate’ and asados who have a key role in our folklore and identity.
'Mate' (pronounced mah-teh) is the most widespread drink in Argentina, much more than coffee and tea. Mate’s origins date back to the indigenous Guaraní people, who were the first to make infusions with its leaves.
It’s drunk from a gourd, wooden or metal cup, through a stainless steel bombilla, then is filled up with hot (not boiling) water, drank, filled up again and passed to the next person.
You will always find people drinking mate everywhere and at all times; at the office, at the park, at uni. No matter if it’s summer or winter there is always a good excuse to drink mate.
I always think I’m not a good representation of my culture. I don’t drink mate, eat meat, or dance tango, but there’s so much more to Latin American culture than the food and music. To me it’s more about how we put so much passion into anything we do, and how easy it is for us to integrate people into our communities and make everyone feel welcome. For example, watching a football game in Argentina is a totally unique experience. When I came to London I couldn’t believe people actually sit in stadiums – we’re always jumping non stop, cheering, making the most amazingly bizarre songs and you’ll hear the fan band’s instruments playing non stop during the full 90 minutes of the game. People take this passion a little bit too seriously but it’s amazing, and that’s what we do with everything in life.
Moving to another country I realised how easily this sense of community binds us together – after a couple years we have created new groups of friends and families, you’re never alone when you have a Latin American friend.
Being Hispanic and Latin involves so many nice things, from food, to music, indigenous people to accents. One important part of the Hispanic heritage in general are the myths and rituals involving so many things in our lives. There’s a ritual to improve the chances of almost anything happening. For example, in Venezuela we have plenty of rituals and traditions around midnight on New Year’s Eve. To have a prosperous new year a typical Venezuelan would eat 12 grapes and wish 12 wishes with the bells of the new year, and will stroll around the block with suitcases to improve the chances of travelling in the new year. Even wearing yellow underwear will increase good luck and eating lentils at some point during the night will promise a successful year. And If you are looking to get married, stepping on and off a chair will defo get you there.
To me being Latina means a shared journey experience, coming to a new country with a hope and a dream of providing a better life while honouring and remembering the land we came from.
It means a strong sense of community — from friends and family to our larger communities. Aka calling your mom or your tía 4-5 times a day 😂
It means resilience — coming to a different country, we’re usually our parent’s translators and given a strong sense of responsibility as we help our parents navigate this new land. A responsibility not given lightly but of survival and with the intent to thrive.
It means vibrant music and flavours! A blending of cultures, from the Afro-Latin influences in our songs to our food to the indigenous practices that stewarded the land before us.
The beautiful (and at times sad) blending of our cultures has created a unique people.
And for those who are interested in finding out more about Lima, here’s a good blog of the few things you should know before you travel ;)
The food!! Especially during Christmas. The Christmas season must be the best time of the year for me as it’s the one time of the year where all your family members gather together and enjoy such a joyous day whilst eating wonderful food. I count down the months to December to where I can have some hallacas, pan de jamon and pernil a la piña. Can’t forget the tequeños and arepas either which you can have throughout the year – trust me when I say they are delicious!