TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — December 24th is a special day for Bay Area Hispanics.
“It’s not just Christmas Eve, it’s ‘Noche Buena’ and the family meal and the traditions that go along with it,” says Safety Harbor resident, Aimee Busquet.
Her husband Eddie is keeping their Cuban heritage alive, roasting a whole pig, or “lechon” for a family dinner feast. It’s an all-day event that starts late morning, explains Eddie who is using a “Caja China,” a traditional roasting box used by many Cuban families.
Different Hispanic cultures add their own flavor to the holidays. Colombian families celebrate with a sweet treat called “natilla.” Similar to custard, it’s served very firm and tastes of milk and cinnamon.
Mexican families have brought the “posada” tradition to the United States. In Mexican neighborhoods, families recreate Joseph and Mary’s search for an inn to have the baby Jesus by visiting neighbors’ homes, with song and prayer.
Puerto Rican family’s keep their fridge stocked this time of year. The “parranda” tradition brings up-beat Latin music with recognizable chants unannounced from home to home.
“I remember when I was a kid it was 1 a.m., and suddenly I started hearing the music outside. I would go wake up my parent and there’s a parranda going on,” says Rafael Castro of A Son De Plena, a Puerto Rican band for hire during the holidays in the Tampa area.
As Hispanic families grow in the U.S., many, like Aimee Busquet, are hoping future generations will keep these traditions alive.
Her daughter, Nikki Busquet George, tells News Channel 8 she and her husband plan on doing just that. “Whether we’ve got a little bit of lechón and maybe a turkey, we want to incorporate as much of his own family traditions with mine.”