Spanish Culture

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On many occasions, we as counselors and professionals have clients that are of a different ethnicity or culture from our own. We have to then become familiar as we possibly can with the traditions, customs, and cultures of said client. This research paper will investigate several areas of the Hispanic culture. It will detail areas such as the history, the religion, the language, the cuisine and the social and cultural traditions and myths. It will arm the reader with a much better feel of the Hispanic culture in hopes that we will be better equipped to give professional counseling to a person of this ethnicity if the situation ever arises. Since research data and census data tells us that one out of every 7 persons living in the United States is of Hispanic descent, I believe it is only relevant that I do my research on this ethnicity. With a population of such enormous proportion, it is no wonder why influences have been made on the food, music, and social structures of the United States.

We will begin our research with a basic understanding of the Hispanic culture in general. We know that over the past 30 years, the Hispanic population has exhibited such a tremendous growth in the United States that they now comprise over 11% of the U.S. population. Keep in mind that this includes 3.6 million Hispanics residing in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Over seventy-percent of the Hispanic population is concentrated in four states – California, Texas, New York, and Florida. Mexican is the largest ethnic subdivision of Hispanics in the United States, comprising about 63.3%, followed by Central and South American (14.4%), Puerto Rican (10.6%), Cuban (4.2%), and other Hispanics (7.4%).

Hispanic is a term created by the U.S. federal government in the early 1970’s in an attempt to provide a common denominator to a large, but diverse, population with connection to the Spanish language or culture from a Spanish-speaking country. The term Latino is increasingly gaining acceptance among Hispanics, and the term reflects the origin of the population in Latin America.

One very important fact that should be stated is that family is the most important aspect of Hispanic/Latino lives. A very close connection is made among the immediate and extended families. The elderly play a very important and major role in giving advice to the adults and helping raise the youngsters. Hispanics believe that when their elderly get old, it is their responsibility to care for them.

Hispanics also feel that one of the most amazing cultural facts is the level of responsibility they feel toward other family members. They are a very close-knit community. They help each other in situations that arise: poor health, economic trouble, or simply helping raise a child. The passing of family traditions down many generations is very common. It is not unusual to have several members of the same family with the same name. That’s one way Hispanic baby names carry the tradition for years and years.

Many of the traditional celebrations that Hispanics involve themselves revolve around religion, but other don’t, like receiving the New Year and saying goodbye to the old one and by “quemando el Ano Viejo” which means “burning” the old year which is represented by a human size rag doll stuffed with fireworks.

Music and dance are very important elements for everyday life. Hispanics get together to celebrate holidays, birthdays, baptisms, first communions, graduations, and weddings. Parties last a long time by American standards, most of the time more than four hours. Special occasions are an opportunity to show their intense passion for enjoying life.

One thing to keep in mind is that there are many variations from country to country in grammar, lexicon, and pronunciation of letters like the ll, z, and y. Therefore they have many different dialects. In the United States many Hispanic families speak only Spanish at...
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