Guest Author - Rebecca M. Cuevas De Caissie
Hispanic Christmas Traditions
For Hispanics Christmas remains a predominantly religious holiday. Even though more and more Hispanics are moving away from the Catholic religion, the ties and traditions that are well established into the culture itself have remained. The holiday of Christmas is a season more than a day to celebrate. As with most traditions in the Hispanic culture, the celebrations of the Christmas season are devoted family times. The season of Christmas traditionally lasts from the beginning known as Advent through the Baptism of Jesus.
Traditionally the holiday season begins with Advent. Advent is the Latin word for arrival or coming. It is the time when the traditional Catholic prepares for the coming of the Lord. Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. One of the most popular traditions in celebrating Advent is the Advent wreath. Traditionally there are three purple colored candles and one that is rose colored. The rose colored candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent. The purple candles are to remind the celebrants to turn their hearts to God and the rose colored candle is to symbolize joy. The white candle, lighted on Christmas, is called the Christ Candle, and represents purity.
Posadas is a tradition that many Hispanic cultures share. Posadas mean literally shelter or lodging. It is a reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem and their search for shelter. This tradition is celebrated by a group of people traveling from house to house through out a community asking for shelter. All are to refuse them until they come to the last house in which they are all invited to come in. The ritual lasts for nine days (December 16-24).
*There are some other traditionally catholic days of celebration that are a part of the Hispanic culture.
*The feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8th.
*The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas or on December 30 when Christmas falls on Sunday on Dec. 31. The Epiphany, the oldest of the Christmas feasts, is also known as Three Kings Day for the three magi who found the Christ Child after following a star to Bethlehem. It is celebrated on Jan. 6 and is the major holiday of the Christmas period in the Eastern Church. This is the day traditionally to give gifts as opposed to Christmas day as in other cultures.
*The Baptism of Our Lord brings the Christmas season to a close. It is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Epiphany.
There are also many unique traditions for celebrating the Christmas Holiday seasons that each nationality has.