Hispanic Culture: Religion & Family

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Do you want to become aware of how Hispanic culture approaches religion and family? This lesson gives you a brief and clear overview of these two important aspects in Hispanic culture.

Religion and Family Importance

Have you ever heard that Hispanic people are very religious? Have you also heard that Hispanic people have very strong family ties?

While this is true, we should take into account the fact that things are in a process of change nowadays. This does not mean that religion or family are less important in Hispanic culture though. Let's learn about these two aspects.

Religion

Lisa has four Hispanic friends from different countries: Carlos (from Ecuador), Juan (from Mexico), Isabel (from Colombia), and Nuria (from Spain). All these friends have something in common: they are Catholic, which is Católicos in Spanish.

This is no surprise because the predominant religion in Latin America and in Spain is Catholicism. However, each friend Lisa has is different because they come from different families who can be more or less strict when it comes to the practice of religión Católica (Catholic religion.)

For instance, Carlos never misses la Misa dominical (Sunday Mass) because he strongly believes that it is the most important aspect of being Catholic. At Mass, he likes taking la comunión (the communion) because it makes him feel spiritually strong to begin his week. To take the communion, he goes for la confesión (the confession) with a priest he likes. During confession, he tells the priest about things he did wrong during the week and repents.

Juan is similar to Carlos but he also has a few imágenes (icons) in his apartment. Every country in Latin America and also Spain has their own icon they have faith in. For the Virgin Mary, for instance, Hispanics have different names that correspond to the culture of each place. Since Juan is Mexican, he has a lot of faith in La Virgen de Guadalupe (The Guadalupe Virgin).

Catholicism is a prominent religion among Hispanics, though practices have become less strict
catholicism

Isabel has icons but rarely attends Sunday Mass.

Nuria, on the other hand, is also Catholic but she hardly ever goes to church. She carries in her purse a rosario (rosary) her grandmother gave her, but she does not really follow strict traditions, such as going to Sunday Mass, praying the rosary, or having icons at home.

The reasons for the differences among these friends have to do with their personal way of viewing the religion, which is different from their parents' or older generations. Also, it might have to do with how strict their families are on religious traditions.

In short, the practice of Catholicism varies from person to person. Strict traditions such as fasting on four consecutive Fridays previous to the Easter week are getting lost, but this does not mean we may come across a devout young person or two.

Also, in Latin America there is now a strong influence of Protestant religion and people who were raised Catholic are open to learning and joining Christian churches. Hispanics who live in the US are very likely to join Protestant churches.

Family

Carlos, Juan, Isabel, and Nuria came to the US to do a master's program. They like the US and would not mind staying, but there is family to consider. Their families are back home and their ties to them are very strong.

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