Fiesta Latina vs. Fiesta Gringa

It’s birthday party season again and one of the more popular posts on Latinaish is Latino vs. Anglo Birthday Party. A Spanish version of this post was even published in the June/July 2010 issue of SerPadres Magazine after being discovered on Tiki Tiki Blog. So here it is for those of you who are new here or who might have missed it!

The Differences Between an Anglo Kid’s Birthday Party and a Latino Kid’s Birthday Party

#1. Who gets to come?

Anglo – Those whose names are written on the invitation.

Latino – Those whose names are written on the invitation, plus their uncles, cousins, and sometimes random neighbors who had nothing better to do that day.

#2. What time should we come?

Anglo – The time is right there on the invitation.

Latino – An hour late, or else the hosts won’t be ready when you arrive.

#3. Food Etiquette

Anglo – Eat only what is given to you. Don’t ask for seconds even if you’re really hungry.

Latino – Eat as much as you want and then ask for plates to take home leftovers for eating later or to bring to family members who didn’t feel like coming.

#4. Singing, dancing, music

Anglo – The only music heard is when the kids sing “Happy Birthday” at cake time. Dancing is rare, but when it happens, it is usually the “Hokey Pokey”.

Latino – WHAT?! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! THE MUSIC IS TOO LOUD! … Adults dance Perreo in front of the kids, no importa.

#5. Alcohol?

Anglo – Of course not! What’s wrong with you?! It’s a CHILDREN’S birthday party!

Latino- Claro que sí! … The cerveza is there in the cooler, hermano!

#6. Entertainment

Anglo – A strict schedule of organized activities and games for the children.

Latino – Niños, go play in the street or something. Stop bothering the grown ups! We’ll do the piñata later! Híjole!

#7. What’re we eating?

Anglo – Probably pizza.

Latino – Steak, chicken, rice, beans, salad, tortillas, etc. Load your styrofoam plate up until it’s ready to crack under the weight.

#8. When does the party end?

Anglo – Refer to your invitation. Thank your hosts and excuse yourself on the dot. Clear out!

Latino – Party until everyone’s tired and/or Tío Eduardo passes out on the couch while watching a fútbol game.

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Credit: Images by Eric Peacock and Paul Kelly used to create graphic.

Cascarones vs. Easter Eggs

The first year we made cascarones, I didn’t have any dye so I tried to decorate the entire egg with colored tissue paper and glue. It was messy and they didn’t turn out very pretty, so this year I decided to do it the right way and dye the eggs. I bought your typical $1 kit with colored tablets for egg-dyeing at Easter time – a package that is familiar to me from childhood. However, because these kits are meant for American-style Easter eggs, they come with additional items you don’t need for cascarones which apparently perplexed my 10 year old.

Him: What are these for? [picking up stickers and cardboard egg holders]

Me: We don’t need those. Those are for making American Easter eggs.

Him: You put stickers and these thingies on them before you break them on someone’s head?

Me: No, [laughing] You leave the egg in the shell and cook them – you know hard boiled eggs?

Him: [nods]

Me: Then you dye them, put stickers on them, and these little cardboard thingies are so you can display them until you eat them.

Him: You eat them?! That’s weird!

It kind of boggles my mind that my 10 year old couldn’t remember what regular Easter eggs are – I mean, I made them with them before? When they were little? In the past? Didn’t I?… I don’t remember anymore. Apparently, in recent years I’ve done such a good job of teaching the boys Latin American culture that I now need to step it up with showing them Anglo-American traditions from my own childhood.

Salvadoran Nacimientos vs. American Nativities

Our nativity scene

Nacimientos, or nativities, are something that both Carlos and I grew up with. In my case, the nativity was a simple wooden manger scene with plastic figures: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus in a bed of straw, an angel, the three wisemen, a cow, a donkey, a couple sheep and their shepherd. My mother always placed the nativity beneath the Christmas tree and my sisters and I were allowed to play with it just like we played with our Barbies or any other toys where we’d act out elaborate storylines while laying on the carpet, completely lost in our own imaginations.

In Carlos’s case, the nacimiento of his childhood took up a large area of their house during the Christmas season. The clay figures included all the same characters we had, plus many more. Salvadoran nacimientos often look more like a bustling city than an intimate scene. No figure is considered inappropriate, from a woman at a pupusería, national soccer players, politicians, drunks, Chavo del 8, and short-skirted cheerleaders with batons known as “cachiporras” to the devil himself.

Carlos’s childhood nativity sounds like a dream come true! I can only imagine how many hours my sisters and I would have played with such a scene – except that Carlos tells me that playing with it was absolutely not allowed.

Now that we’re grown and married with our own household, we put up our own nativity scene. The first year we bought it and put it up, we had an argument about baby Jesus. Carlos couldn’t understand why I put baby Jesus into the manger and I couldn’t understand why he kept taking it out and hiding it. Carlos says that in El Salvador, you don’t put El Niño Jesús in the manger until he’s born. What I was doing – displaying the complete scene with the baby weeks before Christmas – made absolutely no sense to him – (Although cheerleaders attending the birth of Christ apparently makes sense, but I digress.)

For a few years, although I thought it was weird, I let him hide baby Jesus. I also insisted that by his logic, the three kings should be hidden until January, but he ignored me. At this point I must have gotten used to his way of doing things because when I set up the nativity, I handed Jesus over to him without a word and watched him stick him behind a picture frame on a shelf.

This year I’ve tried to make our Nativity a little more Salvadoran. I added a house plant as a palm tree and some rocks from la Libertad, but I definitely want to buy some characters in the years to come. I like the idea of expanding the nativity to look like a town in San Salvador… as long as Carlos let’s me play with it.

What kind of nativity do you have? Do you allow your children to play with the nativity? Why or why not?

Other links to check out:

Los tradicionales nacimientos de barro – Youtube video from ElSalvador.com

Aviones de Papel

[English translation below]

Un día nuestro hijito pidio que Carlos y yo hicieramos aviones de papel. Yo me fijé que Carlos hizo su avión bien diferente que el mio. Me puse a pensar si la diferencia entre nuestros aviones fue porque los salvadoreños aprenden a hacerlo de una manera y los gringos aprenden de otra.

¿Qué piensan ustedes? ¿Cómo doblas un avión de papel – como yo? Como Carlos?… o un estilo diferente?

Participaste en Spanish Friday? Deja tu link en comentarios!

English translation:

One day our son asked Carlos and I to make paper airplanes. I noticed that Carlos makes his paper airplanes really different from mine – It made me wonder if the difference between our airplanes was because Salvadorans learn to do it one way, and gringos learn to do it another way.

What do you guys think? How do you fold your paper airplane? Like me? Like Carlos?… or a different way?

Did you participate in Spanish Friday? Leave your link in comments!

Hello vs. Aló

I’ve made a lot of compromises to live in harmony – it’s a necessity for any household, especially a bi-cultural one. Most of the compromises cease to even feel like compromises because I’ve embraced them to the point that they’ve become second nature, but there is one thing that still makes me a little crazy.

The phone rings, I answer it.

“Hello?” I say.

Silence.

“Hello?” I say again.

Nervous shuffling. Someone is there but they aren’t answering me.

I sigh, knowing what I must do.

“Aló?” I say – as if English is not my native language.

Suddenly the caller comes to life speaking rapid-fire Spanish, now confident that they haven’t accidentally called a gringa’s house.

The next time the phone rings, I sigh.

“Aló?” I say, cutting to the chase.

On the other end, I hear my Anglo mother giggle.

Galletada

"Tamalada" - Artist: Carmen Lomas Garza

This has always been one of my favorite paintings by one of my favorite artists. “Tamalda” by Carmen Lomas Garza depicts the Latina tradición Navideña of tamal-making as a family.

Every year as I make tamales by myself, I think wistfully what it would be like to be surrounded by generations of women, each of us with our own task, but sharing laughter and conversation, working together to make tamales and memories.

Growing up in an Anglo household means my grandmothers, my mother, aunts and sisters do not know how to make tamales. This is not a family tradition from my side of the family that I am continuing, rather it is one that I’m trying to start for my own children – although they are boys. Maybe I will teach their wives, or their daughters some day – but when they think of Navidad, I want them to close their eyes and taste tamales – I want them to have that connection to their roots.

I’ve been asked why I don’t making tamales with my Suegra, which is logical since Suegra has certainly participated in many “tamaldas” with her sisters – but she goes back to El Salvador each year for the winter, so it isn’t something I share with her and it’s not something I learned from her. Our recipes are very different; Suegra favors the green banana leaves for wrapping her mild-flavored tamales, and I prefer corn husks to wrap my spicy tamales. Like many things between us, making tamales together probably wouldn’t work out.

I’m not as saddened about making tamales by myself anymore though, because this past weekend, my mother, sisters and nephew came to my house for our annual cookie-baking. As I watched my mother alternate between rolling out the dough and moving galletas in and out of the oven, while my sisters and the boys sat around the table decorating the trays of cut out sugar cookies she provided, I remembered the Carmen Lomas Garza painting.

Maybe an annual “tamalada” is not possible, but our “galletada” is close enough.