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I learn my culture from Handy Manny

I realize that while I have an ethnicity I don’t have any culture. Making the occasional arroz con gandules and understanding Sesame Street when they introduce a new Puerto Rican character does not give me culture.

Growing up I spent a lot of time with my Spanish speaking grandmother and aunts.  I can still understand them quite well I realized this past summer but I can’t speak a lick to save my life.  I went to church whose congregation was all Puerto Rican, I had friends who were Puerto Rican, I even hung out in neighborhoods that were mainly Puerto Rican but not of this seemed to affect the life that would become.

You’ve seen pictures of the kids, Shaun is a white boy; light hair, light skin, light brown eyes; he doesn’t have a clue what I mean when I say “You’re Puerto Rican”.  He asks me all the time how I know certain words when Shae is watching Dora and Handy Manny.  The other day on an episode of Handy Manny they were discussing New Years traditions and I realized we don’t have any that represent any culture or heritage.   As a child I remember going outside and clanging pots and pans together, blowing horns and singing, the whole neighborhood could be found doing this, white, black, old and young. Come to find out that this is a Puerto Rican tradition to ward of evil spirits.  On Handy Manny it was said that eating 12 grapes brings prosperity, that’s a Puerto Rican tradition also, and get this, Handy Manny is Mexican.

How do you celebrate your heritage? Do you commemorate your race or ethnicity during holidays or special occasions?


  1. Well you know I’m all mutt..but when we were growing up my Grandmom had us join the Mexican Dance Cutlural Group. Since I was with you all the time I was around your family and the Church and the friends. Today I really don’t do anything cultural. I have learned so much about Guatemalan cultures because of the kids but I have yet to implement anything I have learned. I know they cook tamales for Christmas and they do a huge sweets tray. I know they fly kites on Day of the Dead, I know they make these paper mache things with egg shells. I even know the day they celebrate their Independence Day and many more facts that I don’t celebrate with the kids. Dan and I actually talked about ordering the traditional sweets from this Guatemalan bakery in Trenton that ships since we are doing Chrsitmas Day.
    On a side dad still puts out “offerings” for Day of the Dead.

  2. Christmas is filled with traditional elements of Germany culture in our home. My parents both immigrated from there, and so I was first generation Canadian (and now proudly a new American citizen!).

    We do the Chocolate Advent calendars every year, which are now very popular here too, but 30+ years ago really was sort of unheard on this side of the ocean (my friends were all so jealous).

    Traditionally Germans open their gifts on Christmas Eve as that’s when the tree is unveiled. Our tree is up earlier than that, but we still do all the present opening on Christmas Ever.

    German Christmas Carols are always on, and the gingerbread and Gluhwein flow freely 🙂

  3. I am in the same boat. I understand spanish, but cannot speak it to save my life! Every year, a few weeks before Christmas, my entire family gets together to make tamales. It is a tradition we have done as far back as I can remember. I felt so special the day I was able to join the assembly line with the job of adding the olive into each tamale. I am thinking this year Aiyana will be able to take over that job!

  4. We used to bang pots together on new yr eve. lol I thought it was just for the fun of it. My mom always made egg nog and she ate herring I’d never eat it but supposidly that was a tradition…Were Italian.

    we have no Italian speaking relives left because that stopped using the language when they came over on the boat.

    I can speak and understand a lot of Mexican only because I learned it in school. DORA taught my daughter. lol Funny and sad all at the same times you lose a part of you and your children never even Gain it. So sad. Great post

  5. I’m just the classic American mutt. I don’t really have a heritage and I have always been a bit sad about that. I love seeing how all other ethnicities celebrate their heritage whether its Puerto rican, Irish, Italian, Japanese, or anything else. I guess I’ll just keep eating apple pie, watching baseball, and shooting fireworks on the 4th of July.

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