Winter Blogfest: Hebby Roman

LATINO CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS

            I was born and raised on the Texas-Mexico border, and my husband of 25+ years is Puerto Rican. When I began writing romance, I wanted to bring my background to my books, so most of the characters in my books have been Latino.

My first print published book, BETRAYED, was a historical romance set in my husband’s homeland of Puerto Rico. And my latest release from The Wild Rose Press, THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR, is a medieval romance featuring a Spanish Templar knight as the hero who falls in love with an Irish princess.

From the beginning of my writing, I believed that casting Latino characters in my romances gives me a new and unique richness of culture and customs to draw upon. In turn, I hope my characters and their customs make my romances more interesting and vivid for readers.

When I wrote BETRAYED, I learned that Spanish colonists in Puerto Rico imported some very different Christmas customs than those we see on Hallmark television. But there is a great deal of similarities, too, between the cultures. I learned to honor our shared customs while respecting our differences.

Of course, a big part of the differences is that most Latinos’ religion is Catholic, so their religious observances and customs are definitely not Bing Crosby and a White Christmas. But culture, as well as the Church, has played a big role in Spanish Christmas customs.

Las Navidades is the Latino holiday season, and it stretches from Nochebuena, Christmas Eve through Los Tres Magos, The Three Wisemen’s Day on January 6th, whereas our holiday tradition usually lasts only through New Year’s Day.

But as I mentioned before, there are some customs that are similar to ours, like our Christmas caroling. Latino culture is enthusiastic about their music, and neighbors often serenade one another with Christmas songs or parrandas. But neighborhood serenading isn’t the only music reigning as king during the holidays. Every morning before dawn during Las Navidades at the local Catholic church, there are Misas de Aquinaldo or Christmas carol masses that culminate on Christmas Eve day with the Misa de Gallo or the Rooster Mass, so called because Latino traditional says a rooster crowed at midnight, heralding Jesus’ birth.

In addition to music, the Latino culture features parades in the streets, balls given by the wealthy, and exhibitions of fine horses — not so different from today. But instead of giving to our favorite charity, Latino culture hosted aquinaldos, where a group of poor people carried a box through the streets with a brightly painted statue of one of the Catholic saints. The box was filled with flowers around the saint’s feet. And if the aquinaldo came to your front door, you were given the option of procuring the blessing of the saint by giving alms to the poor.

Unlike our Christmas Day that features copious gift giving, Latinos exchange only token gifts on the Christ Child’s birthday. Their main day of gifting is on January 6th, Los Treys Magos, when the three Wise Men traditionally gifted the baby Jesus with frankincense, myrrh, and gold.

There are a lot of similarities between our prevailing culture and Latino traditions: music and singing, attending church, and giving to the poor. But there are other differences, too, interesting differences.

And those differences are what I believe gives my stories a unique and interesting perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.

Two commenters will each win a copy of THE PRINCESS AND THE TEMPLAR and one grand prize winner will receive a copy of the book plus a $25 Amazon gift card.

 

perf5.000x8.000.inddHebby Roman is the author of eight print published romances, four historical romances and four contemporary romances. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the past president of her local chapter, North Texas Romance Writers. She was selected for the Romantic Times “Texas Author” award. She lives in Arlington, TX with her husband, Luis, and Maltipoo, Max. Please visit her at: www.hebbyroman.com or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/pages/Hebby-Roman  If you would like to subscribe to my newsletter, please send me an email at: callofmuse@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thank you for the very interesting post. Your books sound wonderful.

  2. Interested in romance novels.

  3. Interesting post

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  4. Thank you for showing us some Latino customs.

  5. Reading your post reminds me of the couple of times that my family spent Christmas in Puerto Rico when I was 15-16 years old. My father had business there. I remember visits to Castillo San Felipe and to El Yunque and to old San Juan. This was 35 years ago. I’m sure it’s changed very much since then but I have fond memories of those visits.

  6. Robin Greene says:

    I love the books that are out of the common way.

    Thanks.

  7. Karen H in NC says:

    Nice meeting another new-to-me author writing books I’m sure I would enjoy.

  8. Wow! Very interesting. I enjoy reading about different cultures’ traditions.
    Thank you for sharing that, Hebby!
    I am adding The Princess and The Templar to my TBR!

  9. I’ve never read any book set in Puerto Rica, which sounds so different and interesting.
    strive4bst(AT) yahoo(Dot) com

  10. Thank you, everyone who commented on my blog: Rita Wray, Carol, bn100, elaing8, Catherine, Robin Greene, Tina B, and Jess1.
    Happy New Year everyone!
    Good luck and as soon as the winners are sent to me, I will be sending the prizes out.
    Hebby Roman

  11. Thanks to everyone who dropped by and left a comment. I appreciate it!

    Happy New Year and good luck to you all. As soon as longandshortreviews notifies me of the winners, I will be sending out your prizes.

    Hebby Roman

  12. Thanks for the update!

  13. Happy New Year to you also, Hebby!

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