A Culture Like No Other

What it Means to be a Catholic Latino

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Amazing food, strong families, and having a great fear of a chancla wielding mother when you did something wrong. Latino culture is one unlike any other; the music, the language, and the people are so unique and vibrant it's no wonder that "Despacito" got so popular. Now for those who do not know much about Latino culture, let me tell you there's way more to it than telenovelas, tacos, and Daddy Yankee. When you are referring to someone of Latin descent, you are referring to someone who was born or comes from parents born in Central America or South America, also including the Carribean islands like Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Haiti. 

Now here's a quick history lesson for you, people from Spain do not count as Latinos, but Latin America exists because the Spanish conquistadors and colonist from Spain managed to rather brutishly instill the Catholic faith into the natives of Central Latin America, through persecution and coercion. Today, a majority of the Americas still remain within the Catholic faith. Many Latino traditions are based on the teachings of the Catholic church, and many Latino Parents base their moral teachings on Catholic commandments. Here are some of the things we catholic Latinos grew up with in life.

1) Discipline

There is nothing you could do worse than disobey your parents. Mainly because you knew the minute that swear word left your mouth, or the lights went on when you were trying to sneak back in after breaking curfew, you knew you were in for an ass-whooping. Forget the lecture, because that's not how we roll. Lectures don't strike fear into the hearts of Latino children, but that chancla (sandal) or that belt in your hand sure will. And to be fair, it worked; we'd think twice before breaking curfew again, and we'd be sure to think before we speak when Mami or Papi where in earshot. Another thing to add is that parents are not the only ones allowed to discipline you. To be clear, no one else is allowed to take a belt to another person's kid, but you are more than welcome to get an earful from your abuela, tios, and tias.

2) Faith in Practice

Catholic Latino families go all out when it comes to being a true Catholic. You all went to church every Sunday with your best dress clothes on, no matter how itchy it was. There was a rosary prayed every night before bed and a bedtime prayer after that. Sunday Catechism classes were mandatory as soon as you started school, and Mami always made sure to volunteer you to play in the annual Nativity scene to be an angle or a shepherd. You were not allowed to eat any food Mama served until you prayed and thanked God for the blessing of having any food at all. If you're caught with your shirt untucked or your skirt rolled up, your mother wouldn't have let you out of the house until you wore something similar to a habit; because going dressed as you were would disgrace the family and be an insult to God.

3) Respect Your Elders

Now, this was one of the few things that could lean towards a Latino child's favor. You had no room to argue with your parents when they told you to do something and, as it would seem, same goes for them and their parents. The chain of command in a Latino household cannot be broken. Abuelas and Abuelos ruled the house so long as they lived and no one is allowed to question it. So if Abuelita says you can go and get another helping of rice and beans then Mami can't say another word about it. If Abuelo lets you drive the lawn mower, Papi can only stand by and watch. Grandparents are given nothing but the utmost respect from their children and grandchildren because as you grow up, you begin to realize the amount of sacrifice they put towards giving you the best life you could have.

4) Stories and Lessons

Latinos have been telling stories throughout the ages. You were told the story of how Abuelo and Abuela immigrated to other places. You knew just how hard it was for them to tread through mountains every morning just to get water from a tiny well, just so they could do their own laundry and dishes by hand. If you were lucky enough to be one of the more "favorable" grandchildren, you would have gotten all the juicy stories on how ridiculous and out of control your parents were when they were kids, maybe even some dirt on your tios and tias too, if you were lucky. Grandparents love telling stories of the fond memories they had in their home country or of their parents and family who have passed on, simply to keep the memory of them alive in their hearts. These stories tend to be really interesting and are more than worth a listen to, because not only do you gain some perspective on life, but you get to have some quality time with Abuela while you're at it.

Regardless of where you come from, as a Latino, remember you're part of an amazing culture that is so open and vibrant; so make sure you enjoy all that it can give you. Sometimes its stressful to be part of a family that can't seem to get off your back, and there are times you may feel that you need your space. Regardless of how crazy or out of hand your family can get, there is no denying that you wouldn't have it any other way.

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A Culture Like No Other