Christmas is a time when Christians around the world gather to celebrate God’s greatest gift to the world – the birth of his only son, Christ. For Latin Americans it is, above all, a religious holiday, a time to be with family and friends, to give and share from the heart. It is a celebration of deep-seated traditions, of the triumph of light over darkness, of the promise of hope, peace on earth and of good will among people.

            More than any other holiday, Christmas evokes childhood memories, locked in our heart, of family and friends sharing the special foods and customs of the holiday season.  I still remember fondly the hustle and bustle prior to Christmas. The men helping set up the manger and the Christmas tree, the women fussing in the kitchen preparing the delicious sweets that would be shared, not only with the family and friends but also with the needy. I can never forget the aromas drifting from the kitchen.

            The Latin American Yuletide traditions reflect our heritage. Most of our customs were brought by the Spaniards, German and Italians and adapted to the local conditions. The celebrations in many countries, especially in the rural areas, embody the folklore of each country, such as the famous “posadas” in Mexico and Guatemala, or the pageants, tableaux and dances in Brazil. And no celebration would be complete without the traditional foods served during the holiday season – tamales, all sorts of fritters (buñuelos, pristiños), sweet breads (pan dulces) and the tremendous variety of drinks that go with them, such as hot chocolate, atoles and fruit punches.

            Let us share with our friends some of the Latin American traditions by inviting them for the classic hot chocolate and our favorite fritters, and of course music; the  villancicos (Christmas songs) will get you in the spirit of the season. Click hear for my famous pristiños recipe. FELIZ NAVIDAD to all.

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