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Culture —– The Holiday Season in Latin America

by Brandi

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December 27th, 2009

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Vocabulario de la semana – Weekly Vocabulary

noventa y cinco porciento – 95%
es Católico – is Catholic
una mayoría – a majority
durante el verano – during the summer
más tarde – later
primero vamos a hablar – first let’s talk
acerca de – about
Navidad – Christmas
Noche Buena – Christmas Eve
tan pronto como – as soon as
termina de hablar – finishes speaking
medianoche – midnight
para la familia – for the family
ayudante – helper
ya que – since
la cena Navideña – the Christmas dinner
es un pavo tradicional – is a traditional turkey
el dinero suficiente – enough money
dinero – money
pollo – chicken
juegan con sus regalos – play with their gifts
generalmente duermen tarde – generally they sleep in
para la Nochevieja – for New Year’s Eve
y como la Navidad – and like Christmas
una muñeca grande – a large doll
ropa vieja – old clothes
muñecas grandes – large dolls
en las calles – in the streets
y las queman – and they burn them
para mucha gente – for many people
la persona vieja – the old person
una persona nueva – a new person
cualquier parte del mundo – any part of the world
familia a familia – family to family
región a región – region to region
como regalo de Navidad – as a Christmas gift
si ordenan antes de las 2:00 – if you order before 2:00
para nuestra oferta actual – for our current sale

Because about noventa y cinco porciento of Latin America es Católico, Christmas is as widely or even more widely celebrated than in the United States. Also, because una mayoría of Latin Americans live south of the equator, for them Christmas is actually durante el verano. As you will see más tarde, these influence some of their holiday traditions.

Primero vamos a hablar acerca de Navidad. In Latin America, on Noche Buena, there is a Mass (religious worship service) at many Christian churches at 11:00 p.m. Tan pronto como the preacher or priest termina de hablar, the children run home to await Santa Claus who usually arrives around 12:00 (medianoche) with gifts (in many regions of Latin America). He knocks on the door and brings the gifts in para la familia. (For those of you under age 10 reading our newsletter: Since Santa cannot be at everyone’s home at the same time, he usually gets a neighbor to be his official ayudante.)

Ya que they live in a warmer climate, there are fireworks around medianoche. La cena Navideña is also after medianoche where the main course es un pavo tradicional. Families that customarily would not have el dinero suficiente to buy a turkey try to save their dinero beforehand to make it possible. If they still do not have el dinero suficiente for un pavo, they eat pollo. After dinner, children will usually juegan con sus regalos for a few hours and then go to bed around 3:00 a.m. Needless to say, generalmente duermen tarde on Christmas morning.

Para la Nochevieja they stay up at least until medianoche (like we do here in the U.S. ) y como la Navidad, they again light fireworks. One thing they do in many regions that I found interesting is they build una muñeca grande out of ropa vieja — usually stuffed with straw. On New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja) [no-chay bee-eh-hah] around medianoche they take their muñecas grandes out en las calles, light them on fire, y las queman. (Do not try this at home!) Para mucha gente, this represents the end of “la persona vieja” and the beginning of “una persona nueva”.

As with cualquier parte del mundo, traditions vary somewhat from familia a familia and región a región.

¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo! (Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!)

Sneak peek at next week: Dancing and Año Nuevo (New Years)

David S. Clark — President / Director
Visual Link Spanish™
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