Hispanic Culture
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Hispanic CultureErika LearyIvy Tech Community CollegeCulture is reflected in every aspect of how we live our lives. The means in which we are identified and distinguished from others. Not only embracing who we are but also how we live from day to day. Although culture is often unconscious, it is consciously created often with symbolic representation. All countries form identity in their own ways (Standish & Bell, 2004). The Hispanic culture is no different. Their values, standards, beliefs, and practices are deep rooted and long lasting. Hispanic typically refers to most all of the Spanish speaking countries. Mexico with a population of over 90 million can be a main point of interest when exploring the Hispanic culture, rich with traditions and customs.The Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos, is the most distinct Mexican holiday. It embraces two consecutive holy days, All Saints Day on November 1st and All Souls on November 2nd. Traditional communities mark the start of the holiday by cleaning gravesites of their loved ones, holding vigils, and constructing home altars to honor their family member that has passed (Coerver, Pasztor, & Buffington, 2004). Experiencing The Day of the Dead exhibit at Indiana State Museum was very interesting. Seeing how all different ages of people honored their loved one with each altar being completely individual. Whether it be the fifth grade class using candy wrappers, skulls, flowers and vibrant colors, or adults writing poems, leaving a favorite memento, or even maybe a jar of their loved ones favorite pickled vegetables. An altar made in honor of Roberto Clemete was adorned with everything baseball, Puerto Rico, and yellow marigolds, also known as cempasuchitl, a flower said to have four hundred lives. All with candles lit to guide the dead as they return to visit their loved ones. These are not morbid but more a communion with the dead. Signs that death comes to everyone but life goes on (Standish & Bell, 2004).These altars show a high sense of self in this culture. The festive mood and effort they put into it reflects and enhances their level of self-awareness. We learned in Chapter 2 in the text book about “one or many selves”. Most scholars conclude that we all have a core set of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and values that creates our self.  Their attitudes, beliefs, and values become more apparent when we see this side of their traditions. Mexico’s strong sense of self, its pride, and passionate sense of nationalism show the rest of the world just how much they value their self-concept. Philosopher William James identified three classic components of the self: material, social, and spiritual. The spiritual self involves all your conscious thoughts and feelings, and in a spiritual sense maybe the examination of their soul. It is clear to me this not only relates to the ones carrying on their cultural heritage by making the altars and celebrating the lives of their loved ones, but also understanding that their values became this way because of the very people they are most likely honoring.In addition to mementos being left at the altars traditional foods such as pan de muerto (“bread of the dead”), and sugar candy in the shape of skulls are often left and shared between those celebrating. Mexico is well known throughout the world for their cuisine. Going to the Hispanic grocery store was a completely different experience than what I am used to at Marsh or Kroger. They carried a wide variety of authentically Hispanic foods that are not found at American grocery stores. When I see Jarrito’s soda or Gansitos I honestly have no clue of what they entail. To my surprise Jarrito’s is just a Mexican fruit flavored pop with much more carbonation than the soda we are used to, and Gansitos is a Mexican snack cake that I related closely to an iced Twinkie with strawberry filling. The store had lots of interesting snacks including pork rinds as big as a kite! Some other unique finds were cactus or nopales, a moonshine grade liquor called pulque, made from fermented agave, and squash blossom that are often used for flavoring or decoration.

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Hispanic Culture And Home Altars. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/hispanic-culture-and-home-altars-essay/