National Hispanic Heritage Month begins September 15! We were excited to sit down and talk with PBT artist Cecilia Hernandez to learn about some of her family’s cultural traditions and customs.
What is Hispanic Heritage Month? Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
Can you share a bit about your culture with us?
I am half Colombian and half Puerto Rican. Even though I was born in the U.S., my parents instilled many traditions. Both nationalities have delicious cuisines and music. We love to dance cumbia and salsa. Family is very important in our culture and we take care of our elders.
Do you feel like your identity is tied to your heritage?
My great-grandmother became a widow at 40 years old in Colombia and she baked cakes to help support her family of 9 children. To this day, we still use her recipe on special occasions to celebrate her. My grandmother is one of the most meaningful people in my life and one of the ways she kept my family, specifically the ladies, tied to our culture was throwing us quinceañeras, which is very popular in Latin countries. When most of my friends were having Sweet 16 parties, I had a traditional quinceañera for my 15th birthday with 14 friends as part of my “court.”
What are some of your favorite memories growing up?
One of my favorite memories about growing up in my culture is the Christmas celebrations. Colombians, and most Hispanics, celebrate on Christmas Eve, and we gather together, pray, dance, play games and open gifts late at night (which was my favorite part).
What are your favorite family traditions?
My favorite cultural tradition in my family is the family gatherings we would have each Saturday. We ordered Colombian food, talked about our week, danced, and played Dominos, which is a significant game in Hispanic culture. My grandfather is the best player I know!