Frijoles or Habichuelas, as they are called in Puerto Rico,
are a basic food staple in most Latin American countries.
Beans were an important source of
protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today with the
increase in vegetarian diets.
Frijoles Negros are the most popular in Cuba where it is
served with yellow rice and accompanied with sweet plaintains. In Puerto Rico I grew up eating
habichuelas with arroz con pollo and tostones (green crispy fried plaintains).
In Mexico pinto beans are smashed into refried beans and served as an
accompaniment or rolled into a tortilla to form a bean burrito. In Ecuador as photographed here, these
red beans will prepared into a vegetarian stew.
In whichever form, beans are one of Latin America’s comfort
foods cooked with wonderful spices and made to be eaten with a hearty appetite!
While strolling along a small village in Costa
Rica called Puerto Jimenez, during the month of December, it was enchanting to
see that no matter how small, simple or elaborate the façade of a house, most
houses were decorated with colorful Christmas ornaments. This was not surprising, as Latinos are
very festive and love to share El Espíritu de La Navidad. Fiestas are plentiful and homes are
ornately decorated as an invitation for friends and neighbors to come and share
The house on this photograph was striking, as the
contrast was significant. At once it is joyful, with the vibrant Christmas decorations
and yet it lacks vitality with its door and wooden window tightly shut. It served as an inspiration and a
reminder that no matter how dismal things may seem, a little decoration and
sharing of Navidades can bring smiles and joy, as it did to me!
Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo
There are all sorts of sanctuaries in Latin America.
Churches are the most prevalent but
there are many small neighborhood makeshift sanctuaries where people go to
pray, seek comfort or find support.
The sanctuaries are decorated with saints, burning candles, which are lit
up in memory of a loved one or a prayer, and there are healers or people from the
community who are present to provide spiritual guidance.
This particular sanctuary, as
photographed here, is in Guatemala.
It is El Sanctuario de San Simón
a pagan saint of the people, who is known for guiding travelers safely through
I also selected this photo for the month of November as it
honors Mexico’s festive holiday, El Día de los Muertos, in which people who
have died are honored by their loved ones. Many visit sanctuarios,
light up candles, pray and honor the deceased.
The glow of burning candles is very soothing and in sanctuarios it’s a sign of hope, love,
and spirituality. Share this
wonderful message by giving this original photograph in the form of a greeting
card through Culturame.com.
Women enchanted by a man singing sweet Spanish love songs with his guitar is a common scene at the many festivals that celebrate culture and traditions of Latin America.
In Otavalo, Ecuador, which is located in the Northern Sierra of Ecuador the women and men dress in traditional costume to celebrate summer solstice at the Inti Raymi or “party of the sun and harvest” festival which is when the earth offers all of it’s fruits after the Andean agricultural cycle ends one of its phases. It’s a time of reunion with the family, community, and more importantly Mother Earth.
The Fiestas Patronales, in which each town celebrates its patron saint, in Puerto Rico take place throughout the year. The festivals are full of color, music, live entertainment, and traditions that often go on for various days or weeks as people enjoy the festivities at their town’s plaza or neighboring towns.
Festivals are also prevalent in Mexico throughout the year. It seems as if Mexico and all Latin American countries look for just about any reason to celebrate; a local saint’s day, a historic event, or even vegetables can provide good reasons for a celebration. Be sure to visit many of the local Latino festivals in your community.
Since September is a month for new beginnings, I chose this
photo taken in Taxco, Mexico for Hispanic Culture Online photo contribution this month because it represents an interesting contrast of the old and the new.
The young man carries sacks of
oranges on his back
a traditional image of labor.
The girl sits leisurely holding a
cell phone wearing jeans, athletic shorts, and a floral top – a modern cultural
Both reveal what was
then and what is now - a testament as to how technology may infiltrate culture,
but some things don’t ever change.
What does remain constant is the attraction between boy and
girl. Will the traditional boy and
the fashionably tech savvy girl get together? It is likely the opposites will
merge and adapt to the new while retaining their old. That’s the beauty of our world today – we are able to
embrace the new while holding onto our cultural traditions and identities.
It’s a steamy hot summer in much of the USA and there is no
better way to cool off than with a “Piragua!” That’s what we call these shaved ice treats in Puerto
Rico. In Cuba they are
“Granizados”. In the Dominican
Republic, “Frío, Frío.” In
Mexico, Colombia and Panama they
are called, “Raspados.” In
Bolivia, “Shikashika.” In
Chile, “Mermelada con Hielo.”
In Venezuela, “Cepillados” and in Peru “Cremolada.”
You’ll find vendors of these delicious treats, with colorful
pushcarts, standing near parks and street corners in Latino neighborhoods. You’ll
be sure to savor this refreshing treat even before it touches your lips, as the
vendor scrapes off the ice, places it on a paper cone, and pours your favorite
fruit flavored syrup over the ice!
Ay, qué rico!
This is a delicious multicultural summer treat with many countries
where it’s hot and fruits are plentiful enjoying their own version of this
frozen dessert. “Halo halo” is
what they call it in the Philippines.
“Shave Ice” in Hawaii. “Kakigori” in Japan and “Ice kacang” in
At Cultúrame™ we honor this multicultural treat with a bilingual
card to encourage friends and loved ones to enjoy and share the sweet pleasures
of the day!
With the summer upon us, and the passing of our
recent Fourth of July celebrations, I am inspired to share this photo of two
beauty queens at the Puerto Rican Day Parade. It brings back memories of my days as a Teen “Queen of Naguabo”
at the 1970 Puerto Rican Day Parade.
I remember sitting on top of a beautifully decorated float waving at the
cheering crowds enthusiastically celebrating our Puerto Rican heritage – it was
a wonderful moment in which I felt connected to mi cultura y gente!
For the many Latinos who participate in parades,
representing their country of origin and sharing their customs and culture
throughout the United States, it’s also a way to honor their homeland. There
are over one hundred Latino parades and festivals in the New York area
alone. Aledia in her website,
lists a calendar of events with photos that are filled with color, ornate
costumes, and rituals by the diverse cultures of Latin America.
amount of cultural parades is a testament to the need for individual cultural
identity and community. Reach out
to your Latina Mami, Prima, Hermana o Amiga with this Cultúrame™ card and let
them know you share your Latino pride but more importantly let them know they
are princesses in your eyes.
Latin culture traditionally has been a patriarchal society
with the man as the dominant family figure. This, of course, is rapidly changing with women increasingly
becoming the head of households, but on this month’s photo contribution, I
would like step back for a moment and recognize and honor Nuestros Viejos (our
old men) who are often wise with lots of Sabiduría (wisdom).
This photo, taken in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, simply
reveals the weathered hands of an elder man, his dashing sombrero, well
appointed cuffed pants and shiny black shoes. You need not see anymore of his persona to know this man is
a caballero! His relaxed stance
conveys confidence, maturity, and a reassurance that his life’s lessons are
plentiful. He surely has many a
story to tell. Stories we can
learn from and admire.
The photograph is part of the Fotografía America Latina
Collection, which is attached to a Cultúrame Bilingual greeting card. The sentiment inside reads as follows:
“¡Oye, mi Viejo! Gracias for being who you are y
presente when I need you most. Wishing you a beautiful day. Con Mucho Cariño.”
This is the perfect gift for that special Viejo in your
Cultúrame was the proud sponsor of the Mental Health Association of Westchester's MHA On The Move 5K Run/Walk Event on May 15, 2011 held at Purchase College, SUNY.
This catchy phrase was quite popular in the 1970’s
when feminism and women’s liberation were in fashion! A more contemporary version today, would
be “You go, Girl!” Whatever the
slogan, there is no doubt that in most cultures or countries today, women are
rapidly gaining power and notoriety. Whether they’re living in a modern or
traditional setting, as illustrated on this photo of a woman counting her
earnings at a cattle market in Ecuador in 2007, women are the force of the
future as their numbers increase in the workplace.
Latinas are finding themselves in a new role as
head of the households. However, this new role may come with familial conflicts,
as Latino machismo diminishes with women gaining more independence and power. Leaving Latino men and women to
renegotiate their status in the family.
The photo is a
reminder of women, then and now, taking care of business and playing a central
role in managing the livelihood of the family. Surely, you know a woman who deserves this recognition today
– your mother, sister, friend, or colleague. Give them this Bilingual card as a celebration for all they
have accomplished and do everyday.