I am sadly aware of the misconception that the term Latina/Latino or LatinX is believed to be a blanket descriptor for all latin cultures around the world.
Unfortunately, this one-size-fits-all approach or perspective leads people to misinformation like “all Latinos eat tacos” or “all Latinos dance salsa” and one of my absolute favorites, “all Latinos are undocumented” and on and on.
While these misconceptions are unfortunate, and avoidable with a few minutes spent searching the Internet or wikipedia for (even the most superficial) of cultural facts – I find that a greater problem exists within our own Latin communities and the lack of knowledge and awareness we have of each other’s cultures, beliefs and points of views.
As a Cuban immigrant, I know very little about the countless Latin cultures around the world. I am most acquainted with Puerto Rican and Dominican culture because I grew up in Miami and was welcomed into the lives of many of my Puerto Rican and Dominican friends. I ate their food, danced to their music, played their games, heard their concerns, and often times, even listened to their prayers. But there are so many other pockets of Latino culture I am complete ignorant about and have recently felt a sense of responsibility to continue my education in all-things Latino.
I am starting today with this post because it so happens it is the third day of the Day of the Dead.
After some basic online research and reading I learned that The Day of the Day is a Mexican holiday celebrated in a variety of ways throughout the country – specifically in central and southern Mexico. Apparently, El Día de los Muertos has its roots in the Mayan culture – in which people honor their dead/ancestors in three different steps. First, they clean their house in order to welcome their loved ones. Then, they set up an alter to present their dead with offerings of their favorite food and drinks (and there’s even a special offering for children during the first day of the holiday in which toys are placed on the alters for children who died too soon). In some places, this holiday includes performances by La “Catrinas” (a display of decorative painted skeleton “Catrinas” in fancy dress satirizing the upper class for thinking they could cheat death). There is also something called “Camino de Flores” in Merida with a more environmental spin to El Día de los Muertos that’s worth learning more about.
This Mexican celebration is filled with delicious foods cooked in traditional ways, it’s got music, processions, festivals and so much more. I was glad to learn a bit more about my Mexican hermanas y hermanos during the last three days, as they enjoyed The Day of the Dead (wherever they may be in the world) – because that tends to be another misnomer – that Mexicans live in Mexico (and in the U.S.) – yet I know from personal experience that there are Mexicans in Paris, Venice, and Switzerland – YES, folks, just like with any other people – Latinos travel, they relocate, and they make their homes wherever on our planet they like (just like everyone else).
Here’s to more of these posts, where I may be able to share a little more about Latinos everywhere – perhaps one holiday at a time – or one discovery at a time. Either way, come back soon for another article from “A Latina’s Cultural Education.”