As a native New Mexican, our culture is something to be proud of and celebrate! Hispanic food, family, traditions, and holidays are quite unique. I’d like to share our deeply rooted family heritage.
Enchiladas, chips and salsa, tacos, chile rellenos, tamales, and beans and chile are our family favorites. This is not a full list, but “red or green” is the only question when it comes to food. For most Hispanic families, we have a slight variance in our recipes. My enchiladas are slightly different than my mother-in-law’s. But they are all made from the heart with love. Feeding our families is a maternal tradition passed down from generation to generation and, often, a huge sense of pride for the matriarch of a Hispanic family. In our family, we know we can go to grandma’s house for the best comida around!
Friday Nights Are for Family
The ties for a Hispanic family are strong. I typically get together with my family every Friday night for dinner. When I say family, I mean more than our immediate bunch. It’s common to have over 25 people at the table. My grandmother is the family matriarch. It’s usually all of her children (my mom, aunts, and uncles–there are 4 siblings), their families (my cousins), and our families (spouses and children). There are four generations under one roof every week!
We share a meal, but more importantly, we share our lives and make memories. As we sit around the table, we talk about what’s going on, we share laughs, MANY inside jokes, and support one another when times get hard. If we ever need support or help, we turn to our family first. When a family member is having a hard time, they know they can count on us to be their rock.
Most of our traditions surround holidays and special events. There are a few things we look forward to every year. My family and I enjoy picking and peeling chile together. The smell of fresh roasted chile every fall warms my heart. If your hands aren’t burning after hours of peeling chile sacks, it isn’t hot enough!
In June, you can catch our family in Old Town for the San Felipe de Neri Parish Fiestas. It is customary for each Catholic Church to celebrate its patron saint with a weekend of fiestas and celebration. Our family operates a soda booth every year at the annual event. Nothing beats fiesta hamburgers, local live music, and community!
Holidays & Heritage
Birthdays, Cinco de Mayo, weddings, baptisms, Quinceaneras, Dia de los Muertos, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the list goes on! In my family, there is always a reason to celebrate! And what might seem like a small get together will quickly turn into 50 of your closest family and friends. Mi casa es su casa as the saying goes (My house is your house).
Every holiday or special event is a chance to get together to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. Birthday celebrations are complete with a meal of your choice. I always pick tacos, a cake, and our variation of Happy Birthday with a prayer. Many families sing Las Mananitas, a classic birthday song!
Christmas is a special holiday and is one of my favorites. We celebrate each Christmas season with traditions, family recipes, and activities. Empanaditas, chile rellenos, and biscochitos are baked from recipes passed down for generations–not only to eat but to teach the next generation. Our family fills paper bags with dirt and lights to line the streets of Old Town for the annual Luminaria Tour around the Plaza. And each year, we welcome our community into our home to share Las Posadas–a tradition of reenacting Mary and Joseph’s pilgrimage from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a place to stay.
Preserving Our Heritage
Tradition and family are the glue that keeps our Hispanic Heritage vibrant and strong. Recipes, traditions, and values are a right of passage that we strive to preserve. Spending time with the next generation to teach them our history and culture is key. And it comes naturally in most Hispanic families. I’m extremely thankful and blessed to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors and hope to continue the legacy for generations to come.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in Albuquerque
APS Essay Contest
Albuquerque Public School holds an annual essay contest for Hispanic Heritage Month. This year’s theme is Mi Herencia (My Heritage). This contest is open to elementary, middle, and high school students. Find out more.
Hispanic Heritage Awards | October 14
The Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce will be announcing the 2021 Hispanic Heritage Awards at this ticketed event at Hotel Albuquerque. Find out more.
Watch a Flamenco Performance
Reserve a table at Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque, which features premier artists from Spain and the United States.
Visit the National Hispanic Cultural Center
Experience some beautiful art and culture in this gorgeous museum right here in Albuquerque.
Take in a Historic Site
Several of New Mexico’s historic sites and churches offer visitors an in-depth look into its heritage with Spanish missionaries, conquistadors, and enthusiasts.
Visit El Rancho de Las Golondrinas
This historic ranch, now a living history museum, dates from the early 1700s and was an important paraje or stopping place along the famous Camino Real, the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Read about one writer’s visit here.
Grab a Good Book
Check out this reading list to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Do you have any books to add?
Originally published September 2020. Updated September 2022.
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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.