Where the Church and the Hispanic culture meet
The Latino population makes up a major segment of the Catholic faith. These include Spanish from varied backgrounds including Mexican, Caribbean, Central and South American as well as immigrants to North America. This wide range of local culture brings with it a just as wide ranging amount of Hispanic traditions that add a flair al their own to the Catholic Church.These traditions are very ritual and bring with them expressions of love, gratitude, commitment, and community.
These traditions find themselves manifest in church ceremonies and grand family fiestas. They are a celebration of life at all its stages and serve as a means to show gratitude to God for the gift of life, love, family and the community as a whole.Here are a few Hispanic traditions celebrated widely today.
Baptism is the rite of initiation into the faith. The washing of water that occurs during this sacramental is a sign of religious purification and consecration. Bautismo (as Hispanics call it) binds the child to God, and is the parents’ public affirmation and commitment to raising their child in the Christian faith.
In baptism, the godparents play a significant role in the spiritual upbringing of the child. Compadrazgo (godparent) involves a solemn commitment to the family to serve in the role of friend, confidant, and advisor. After the baptismal ceremony, parents and godparents address each other as compadre – meaning sacred relationship.
As in many Hispanic traditions, the sacrament of baptism is followed by a grand celebration or fiesta called the Bautizo.
This Hispanic Tradition of the Presentation is similar harkens back to the presentation of Jesus in the Temple 40 days after his birth. Today, this is normally celebrated when the child reaches his or her third birthday.
Essentially these are blessing ceremonies that occur within a family celebration. Parents will present their child before God and His people (family and friends invited to the ceremony), to receive grace and wisdom. The celebration ends with a fiesta in the family’s home.
The Quince Años is the celebration of a young girl coming of age that takes place on her 15th birthday. This celebration recognizes the young girl’s journey from child to adulthood. It is celebrated beginning with a church ceremony and is followed by an elaborate reception, much like that of a wedding, which includes music and dancing.
Hispanic weddings are filled with many symbols. These symbols represent the commitment of the bride and groom to each other and to God. A few include:
These white satin pillows are placed of the bride and groom during the Entrance procession. They are embroidered with the words Nuestra Boda, meaning “our wedding”.
The Bible plays an important role in the wedding ceremony. The couple receives a blessed Bible as encouragement to build their lives together on the teachings of Christ. Along with the Bible, Catholic ceremonies include a presentation of the Rosary to help the couple further their devotion to the Blessed Mother.
These are 13 gold or silver coins which the groom drops into the cupped hands of his wife. This serves as symbol of his commitment to caring and provide for the economic welfare of the home. The bride’s acceptance pf these coins symbolizes her trust and confidence in him.
Hispanic tradition places a great value on family and lasting relationships within the family unit. The anniversary couple, surrounded by family and friends illustrates and celebrates the importance of the bond between husband and wife.
Hispanic Celebrations mark important milestones in every Hispanics life. Just as the Catholic Church places a high value on life at all stages, so do Hispanics. Relationships sustain people and keep them grounded. Hispanic traditions within the Church mark the ebb and flow of life as it advances from birth to death and it does so in celebratory fashion.