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Hispanic culture has scattered around the world. It originated in Spain and, due to the Spanish colonization, it occupied different parts nearly on every continent in the world. Most of it is concentrated in Latin America. Since all these countries were once Spanish colonies, they have a lot in common. However, in the course of time, people in Latin America developed their own culture which is different from Spanish. They have their own cuisine, holidays, religious rituals, family rules, and other traditions. In general, I like Hispanic culture and traditions, and the book that I have just read has given me more interesting and fascinating facts about it.
Hispanic Culture in the Book “Como agua para chocolate”
I have just read a book entitled “Como agua para chocolate” (English: Like Water for Chocolate), written by a Mexican novelist, Laura Esquivel. The subject matter of the book is Hispanic culture and traditions, particularly the cuisine and the family traditions in Mexico. The story of the book is set during the period of the Mexican Revolution in 1910-1920 in Northern Mexico.
The family described in this novel consists of four people: three sisters and their mother. The youngest sister, Tita, is the main character of the novel. The mother is strict and has a profound respect to Mexican traditions. The main focus of the book is Tita being a victim of one of Mexican traditions, namely she must look after her mother and is allowed to marry only after her death. Thus, when Tita falls in love with Pedro, her mother immediately breaks their romance. Moreover, she arranges the marriage of her another daughter and Pedro.
The structure of the book is remarkable and differs from most books. Esquivel includes recipes into her book. The story covers twelve months from January to December and is written in twelve chapters, and every chapter begins with a recipe that gradually reveals Tita’s life story. Tita likes cooking and always prepares special dishes for different occasions. Particularly, she prepares dishes for Pedro to express her love to him. Her emotions are transferred to him and to others through her cooking. According to the Mexican traditions reflected in the book, they prepare special dishes for different occasions and holidays. Thus, there is a tradition called a “country gathering”, when all family members gather together and spend time with each other. After having breakfast consisting of beans, eggs, chilaquiles, pastries, and milk, they participate in different activities such as horseback riding or playing certain sports games. Besides, there are other holidays depicted in the book including Christmas and one of the most famous Mexican holidays “Dia de muertos” (English: Day of the Dead). Additionally, since it is a Mexican novel, it is full of ghosts, magic, and miracles.
From this book, I have learned many interesting facts about Hispanic culture, and their notion of family is one of them. They have certain family traditions concerning religion, holidays, and gender roles. They use a special term “familismo” to demonstrate that family is of paramount importance to them. For instance, when a child is sick, all members of the family including distant relatives call for a doctor, and decide with him how the child will be cared for and what remedies will be used. The term “familismo” also presupposes that their families extend beyond the ordinary nuclear family and include grandparents, uncles, aunts, godparents, cousins, and even friends and neighbors. Besides, the ties within their families are extremely strong, and every event in one of the family member’s life is celebrated by the whole family, which is also vividly illustrated in the Esquivel’s book.
Hispanic families have distinct gender roles. Mostly, they originate from traditional gender roles where patriarchy predominates. They have a special term – “machismo” which is associated with the responsibility of a man to protect and provide for his family. They have also a special term for a woman’s role in the family – “marianismo” that represents a woman’s responsibility to be nurturing, morally and spiritually strong, and self-sacrificing.
Additionally, Hispanic people have different religious traditions. Mostly, they are Catholics and, thus, have Catholic traditions. However, they pay particular attention to the role of godparents. They even have their own term for this – “compadrazgo”. It represents the function of the godparents to provide the appropriate spiritual education for their godchildren. Besides, they help their godchildren in all other spheres of their lives.
Hispanic Culture and the Jesuit Higher Education
In my opinion, learning about Hispanic culture and traditions is important in our Spanish class, as it helps us understand the mentality of Hispanic people and respect it. For me, Hispanic culture is an interesting topic and I would like to learn more about it in general and about the cultural differences between different Hispanic countries in particular. I consider that this book relates to Jesuit Higher Education in a way that it helps other nationalities understand the Hispanic culture better and evoke the sense of respect for it. Thus, it can change us and teach us to be “men and women for others”. In my own experience and after reading this book, I feel that the more I learn about different peoples’ cultures, the more interesting they become to me and the more respect I feel for them.
Hispanic culture is voluminous and versatile, and it encompasses many countries of the world. Spanish colonization is one of the reasons why the Spanish language is one of the most widespread languages in the world. Nowadays, the Spanish culture is different from the culture of its former colonies that are located mostly in Latin America. However, overall, their main traditions about family, religion, cuisine, and holidays have certain similarities.