For those of us with nine-to-five gigs, Friday is the kick-off to one of life’s most celebrated traditions: the weekend. Whether you’re binge-watching Netflix or meeting up with the girls, weekends are for decompressing from our typical professional selves, and this past Friday was no different.
Myself and two girlfriends (both Latinas) met up at our unofficial wine spot to discuss upcoming creative plans. A few sips later, we found ourselves doing more venting than planning, and the topic of tradition in Latinx cultures made its way onto the table.
With my idea of honoring my Puerto Rican heritage being the use of organic adobo, I looked to my more culturally-aligned ladies for some perspective. As racially- and culturally-diverse, 20-something-year-old Latinas, what does it mean to honor tradition?
After much deliberation, we agreed that while there are some aspects to Hispanic/Latinx culture that are considered socially unacceptable to observe (Santería, anyone?), tradition itself has not necessarily died, but instead, transformed to accommodate our more openly eclectic, individualistic, identities.
We might not be in the kitchen with Abuelita making pasteles from scratch during the holiday season, but we’re still breaking out the homemade coquito. We might not speak Spanish fluently, or at all, or know the history of our homelands, but we still honor the most important parts of ourselves that have been passed down to us by loving ourselves and our unique featues.
Tradition, being defined by dictionary.com as “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice,” leaves more room for leeway than most realize. When we think about tradition, we normally associate it with doing the same old things in the same old ways. And many would argue that tradition in the United States, especially for Latinx people, is dying. However, like most things in life, there’s another way to spin this.
At one point, tradition was survival. You got married at a young age to live and observed cultural customs because you knew nothing else. Given the variety of lifestyle options today, we have the luxury of transforming how tradition is carried on. We can choose to reap the benefits of living through such a culturally-transformative time while honoring what history has given us. For example, wearing my hair the way it grows out of my head, which has been passed down to me by those who hail from my various motherlands, is an expressive act of tradition. Everything from preparing our customary dishes with more health-conscious twists to contemporary Latin dance can be appreciated within the context of upholding some degree of tradition.
As contradictory as it may seem, tradition is meant to change over time, and what better time than now? My friends and I drank to this as we celebrated the age-old tradition of “just one more glass”. Salud!