I was recently asked what steps an adoptive family could take to help their daughter, who is of Puerto Rican descent, know her culture. Honoring our child’s culture and heritage is so important, and I wanted to come up with good suggestions for this family. My initial thoughts for her are below, but I would love to share suggestions from you, too! Look for another blog post in the coming weeks on gleaning ideas for incorporating Ethiopian culture into daily life– something we want to be really intentional about doing as we raise our boy, and I know many of you have great ideas!
Ideas for incorporating Puerto Rican culture into your life…
1. The food! For a cookbook, I recommend Puerto Rican Cookery by Carmen Aboy Valdejuli. It’s in English and really thorough. Every day Puerto Rican meals are often a rice with meat and beans in it– like arroz con gandules– and tostones are a popular side. The traditional holiday meat is pernil, (ham) and it’s delicious.
Speaking of holidays, some very easy things you can do to incorporate Puerto Rican traditions, if you’re Christian, are:
2. Celebrate Three Kings Day. Christmas decorations stay up until Three Kings Day and usually something is done to celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings. It can be three small gifts for the kids– and small is totally fine, a special meal, a family tradition, etc. Then the decorations come down.
3. Have a Parranda. Parrandas are basically like a progressive dinner mixed in with Christmas caroling, and they are so much fun. They are supposed to be totally spontaneous, but I think that would be hard to do stateside so I’d plan a night in December that you have a parranda with a few other friends. You show up at one friend’s house, sing carols, they serve you snacks and then everyone moves on to the next friend’s house, sing carols, and they serve snacks, etc. In Puerto Rico, it usually turns into a block party by the end but doing it with 2 or 3 interested families would be plenty of fun. Here is a link to other Puerto Rican holiday traditions (and it has more about Parrandas and Three Kings Day).
4. Salsa music is big in Puerto Rico so buying some old classics and playing them around the house might be fun. Here is a link to some of the history and it also mentions the big names in Puerto Rican Salsa history if you want to look for their music.
5. There is a very beautiful lace made in Puerto Rico called Mundillo. After it has been hand spun (and to watch it be hand spun is a thing of beauty), it is made into clothing, tableclothes, etc. The clothes are especially beautiful. My mom has bought her grandchildren clothing made with Mundillo, and I just love having this traditional clothing. Boys also wear Guayaberas– and so you might get your boys those shirts instead of mundillo dresses.
6. Language! Here’s a source for teaching Spanish to children (especially when you aren’t fluent yourself).