7 Latin American holiday traditions

7 Latin American holiday traditions

Holidays in Latin America celebrate faith, family and community in a festive, at times whimsical, style. Traditions range from waking people up with Christmas carols in the middle of the night to sculpting massive radishes to burning images to ward off evil spirits from the year just over.

In the five centuries since Spanish colonizers arrived in the Western Hemisphere, the Roman Catholic Church has played a major role in shaping Latin American cultural traditions. Its ceremonies, which mark the birth of Jesus Christ, fill the holiday schedule – from midnight masses to re-creation of biblical birth stories. But even as the early Spanish priests and missionaries sought to abolish the spiritual practices of African and indigenous peoples, some rituals survived, often by being incorporated into church ceremonies.

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