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Hispanic Traditions

Latino Families Celebrating Life's Events

From La Presentación to Quinceañeras to Weddings to celebrating El Aniversario de los Abuelos, Hispanic celebrations are joyful gatherings enriched by cherished customs and traditions.

The richness of Spanish celebrations is enhanced by the wide range of Hispanic backgrounds – Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American – as well as the surrounding culture of North America, its language and its cultural norms.

The traditions of native culture influence the spirit that animates the life of the Hispano. These traditions are often ritual expressions of gratitude, love and commitment. They are manifested in church ceremonies and gran fiestas with family and friends. And, for the Latino, la familia means not just mom, dad, brothers and sisters, but also abuelos, bisabuelos, tías, tíos, madrinas, padrinos, comadres, compadres and oftentimes, their church family.

The celebrations of the stages of life serve to illustrate and express gratitude to God for the gift of life, love for family and friends, and commitment to honor and serve God, the family, and, by extension, the community.

Here, then, are just some of the beautiful Latino customs that we celebrate.

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La Boda (The Wedding)

La Boda (The Wedding)

The Hispanic wedding or Boda usually includes special rites and customs. For example, in addition to the Best Man and Maid of Honor, a couple may also have Padrinos de Velación (or de la Iglesia), close family friends (oftentimes an older married couple) who are the "official witnesses" and commit to being counselor and mentor to the newlyweds.

Hispanic elements included in even the most simple wedding rites may be:

The Cojines (kneeling pillows)

White satin cushions beautifully embroidered with the words, Nuestra Boda are placed on the kneelers of the bride and groom by the corresponding padrinos during the entrance procession.

The Bible

Blessed and presented to the couple, it is encouragement to build a life based on Christ's teachings. In Catholic ceremonies, the Rosary is also included to further their devotion to Mary.

The Arras (the wedding coins)
Wedding Flowers

The arras are 13 coins (gold or silver) that the groom drops into the cupped hands of his bride. The coins symbolize his commitment to care for her and provide for the economic and material welfare of the home. Her acceptance of the coins symbolizes her trust and confidence in him. Originating In Spain, the number 13 is said to represent Christ and the Twelve Apostles. The coins are usually carried in an ornately decorated silver or gold box or tray that becomes a family heirloom.

El Lazo

The wedding lazo is an extra long double rosary, or a cord of beads or flowers that is draped in the form of a figure eight – the inifinity symbol – on the shoulders of the bride and groom. This beautiful custom, that takes place after the exchange of the wedding vows, is a symbolic binding of the couple and affirms their commitment to remain together side-by-side.

Children's Celebrations

Hispanics tend to see their children as gifts from God, and hence, express through rites and customs, their willingness to dedicate them from infancy to His service.

El Bautizo (Baptism)

La Presentación del Niño (the Presentation)

Baptism is a rite of initiation into the faith. It a rite of "washing" with water as a sign of religious purification and consecration. To the Hispano, el Bautismo (the sacrament of Baptism) binds the child to God, and is a public affirmation of the parents' and godparents' commitment to teach and mentor the child in the Christian faith. The ceremony takes place among the church congregation and people who want to be present at the event, and who welcome the child into the faith family.

Among some Hispanic cultures, the terms Bautizo and Bautismo are used interchangeably. More popular, however, is the distinction that Bautismo is the church reference to the sacrament of Baptism, whereas Bautizo refers to the celebration of the sacrament and the fiesta that follows.

The role of the godparents is a deeply significant one. "To be a godparent is to be more than someone who simply fulfills an honorary ceremonial task at the moment of baptism. Compadrazgo (godparentage) usually involves a solemn commitment to the family as friend, confidant and advisor – and a commitment to become a true ‘other parent' to the newly baptized child. After the baptism, the parents and godparents will address each other as compadre or comadre – a term that implies a close and sacred relationship." 1

Among many Hispanics, there is a deep devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the "Patroness of the Americas." This devotion is manifested in prominent displays of Our Lady's image in baptismal gowns, Bibles, prayer cards and rosaries. El Ángel de la Guarda (Guardian Angel) is also lovingly conspicuous in prayer books and Bibles.

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La Presentación del Niño (the Presentation)

Little Girl

"The Presentation rite is traditionally celebrated at one of two moments in the life of a child. It can be done within 40 days after birth…"1 as a way of giving thanks to God for new life and a safe delivery. This is reminiscent of the presentation of the Child Jesus at the Temple: (Luke 2:22-35) "When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord."

Or, the Presentation may instead be celebrated when the child has reached his or her third birthday.

These blessing ceremonies take place among the family and within the larger community. Parents present their child before God and His people asking for grace and wisdom in carrying out their responsibilities.

And, in true Latino fashion, the celebration continues with the fiesta in the family's home.

Quince Años

The Quince Años is a Hispanic tradition of celebrating a young girl's coming of age – her 15th birthday. It celebrates the young girl (la Quinceañera), and recognizes her journey from childhood to maturity. In the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central and South American traditions, the custom can be referred to as Quince (XV) Años, Quinces, Quinceañera, Quinceañero or Fiesta Rosa. It is traditionally celebrated with a church ceremony followed by an oftentimes elaborate reception with music and dancing. For more detail on this beautiful custom, see our webpage, Quince Tradition.

Wedding Anniversary

Wedding Anniversary

No Hispanic tradition illustrates more clearly the loving ties of family and friends as the wedding anniversary of the Abuelos (grandparents). Surrounded by children and grandchildren, comadres and compadres, family and friends, the anniversary illustrates and celebrates relationships. Los Ancianos (Elders) are the heroes, respected, revered and treasured.

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Hispanic Celebrations encompass the family-oriented traditions of faith and the celebration of life. They sustain us and ground us. As we face the struggles of life, they help us rise above them and experience and radiate authentic joy and hope ... and fun!


1 Primero Dios – Hispanic Liturgical Resource, Francis, Mark R., Pérez-Rodriguez, Arturo J.


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Champagne Glasses

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Jewelry

Dazzling sets of necklace and post earrings for your Quinceanera ensemble.