A Culture to Be Recognized! August 19, 2020 by Nick Witkowski
Within our world there are thousands of different cultures, some extremely unrecognized and almost forgotten amongst the majority of the population. All cultures are all unique in some way, with some examples including clothing, dishes, religious practices, music, holidays, and even dances! Exploring new cultures provides a new taste for those who may be unfamiliar with ones outside of their own, and today we are going to be highlighting one specific culture that is often overshadowed by many other Spanish speaking cultures. That’s right, today I’ll be highlighting the fascinating Puerto Rican culture! If you aren’t already familiar with Puerto Rico, it is an island in the Caribbean and is actually an unincorporated United States territory. The island is home to gorgeous views of mountains, waterfalls and the infamous El Yunque tropical rainforest, home to many species of plants and animals, and the rare Puerto Rican Parrot, which is exclusive to the beautiful island. On the more industrial side of the territory, buildings are notorious for being colorful and vibrant across the entirety of the big cities. Enough about how the island looks though- let’s dive deeper into the magnificent culture Puerto Rico offers! Oh the food! Puerto Rico’s food is not only delicious but a compliment to the rich food culture many Spanish speaking countries exhibit. Main dishes are primarily built off of rice and some sort of meat and tons of vegetables like olives, corn, and beans. My personal favorite is Rice and Beans, which my mother (who is also Puerto Rican) makes from scratch, and it can’t be beat! Other fantastic Puerto Rican main dishes include empanadillas; a half potato-half beef fried in a shell, pernil (which is a slow-roasted pork shoulder), and the unbeatable arroz con gandules, a rice and beans dish with a little bit of POW that will leave your taste buds begging for more! To top it all off and to leave your bellies full, appetizers such as tostones and mofongo are great foods to eat while sitting on the patio with a ton of family around you, and if you’re feeling a little extra daring the premium dessert that Puerto Ricans absolutely blow out of the water every time is easily the scrumptious flan, a creamy pudding cake that I guarantee you’ll fall in love with! One of the best things about this amazing culture is how serious Puerto Ricans take their historic roots into account during their religious practices and holidays. Most Puerto Ricans are Catholic, and try to attend mass in churches on Saturdays and Sundays. When it comes to holidays, they celebrate Good Friday or Holy Friday, as it is called in Puerto Rico. This day consists of prayer and commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to this, Puerto Rican culture has some similarities to our own American culture, with holidays such as New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas! But, one unique thing about Puerto Rico is that it always honors Christian history. Three Kings Day occurs in early January and is a holiday when Puerto Ricans celebrate the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ by hosting big feasts, which symbolizes the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child. Puerto Ricans also exhibit some clothing choices that probably wouldn’t be so popular in American culture, their clothing comes from the Jibaro culture, which is a blend of other conquered Spanish cultures combined into one. For men, their clothes typically consist of a basic shirt and pants with a snazzy straw hat. Women wear nice flowy colorful skirts and dresses and from time to time are seen with stunning flower bonnets in their hair. That’s not all though! Also popular in Puerto Rico is its music and dances, which are always essential when describing the energy and vibrancy of rich Puerto Rican culture. Those dances you see in all those hispanic communities in movies? Yes! That, believe it or not, actually happens! Dances such as the Bomba and the very popular Salsa are among the few of the plentiful amount of choreography presented throughout the entirety of the island. In addition, these jaw-dropping dances are always accompanied by the most beautiful sounding instruments, with orchestras and bands combining perfectly to the flow of the people wearing colorful-flowy suits and dresses as they dance the night away as partners or a group. Wow! That sure is a lot about a culture that seems to go extremely unrecognized! From the scrumptious food to the deeply-historic holidays all the way to the eye-opening dances. Puerto Rico and its people have a culture that really stands out to all! Maybe try one of these meals with your family one night and try something new, or try and call your family out to the backyard and share an amazing moment together as the music and some Bomba dancing bring everyone together! Puerto Rican culture is an amazing one for sure, so let’s try something new while experiencing and enjoying this amazing culture together especially during these uncertain times.
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