This article is part of The Power of Us, a series running across Hearst Magazines that celebrates the deep and profound ways that Hispanic and Latinx culture has shaped America. To see the complete portfolio, visit OprahDaily.com.
Every holiday season, my Cuban family does our best to get together — sometimes it’s just my immediate family, sometimes it’s a dozen aunts, uncles and my abuelita. Like many Hispanic and Latinx families living in the U.S., we relish our traditions. We may no longer live in the places where we were born or where our families come from, but the holidays are the perfect time to showcase our culture.
Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) is an especially important time for us. My mother and I prepare the turkey according to my grandmother’s instructions, by stuffing minced garlic under the skin and pouring naranja agria (a bitter orange marinade) all over it. Meanwhile, my brother and cousin help prepare the side dishes, working diligently to make everyone’s favorite arroz congri (black beans and rice where the rice is cooked in black bean water to give it that distinct dark brown color). And my uncle has his own tradition — he naps on the couch, usually with at least one of our cats snuggled on his chest. Finally, after hours of cooking, we’ll gather around the table late into the evening, eat our mix of Cuban and American dishes and then count the minutes until we all get to open presents right as the clock strikes midnight.
Like many Hispanic and Latinx people, I love the holiday season because it’s filled with special memories of sharing traditions old and new. Below, six inspiring Latinas share their favorite moments from the holidays, the dishes that always grace their table and their favorite moments of celebrating the holidays with their familia.
When and how do the holidays begin for you?
What was your favorite holiday tradition growing up and how are you carrying it on today?
Food is such an important part of Hispanic and Latinx culture. What is your favorite must-have holiday dish?
What does your favorite day during the holidays look like?
If your holiday celebrations involve charitable giving, consider the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, which identifies, inspires, prepares and connects Hispanic and Latinx leaders in the community, classroom and workforce with resources to improve education, leadership, workforce development and public awareness.
Illustrations by Celina Pereira.