Our Latino Family Holiday Traditions

I woke up to a loud and strangely familiar sound.




What is that noise? I thought to myself. Is that someone at my door? COVID had certainly done a number on my receiving house guests. But could that actually be a person at my door, wanting to visit me, actually waiting to come into my house?! It’s been months with no visitors at all, I almost forgot what it was like to host a guest! 




I looked at my phone and as my eyes moved to the date I realized, IT’S THANKSGIVING! How could I forget? I guess dropping off 129 bags of coffee since Monday will have that effect on you! 


One more knock and I go to open my front door; it’s my lovely mother! And of course, she has booze! 


I love holidays, especially Thanksgiving. It’s such a treat to have the entire family together. Although this Thanksgiving may look a bit different due to COVID-19, it’s still so important to express the gratitude we have for our loved ones whether that’s in-person or via FaceTime or a phone call. 


In a normal year, holidays are  hosted at Rafael’s mom’s apartment or his sister Nancy’s house. Sometimes we go to my parents’ house and get to see both sides of the family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are so blessed with our family and we’re hoping that for next year’s holidays everything is back to how it was before the pandemic and we can have our typical celebrations again.


Holidays in my family have always been like one big party filled with lots of food, family, drinks, and of course, coffee! We have strict priorities for every holiday: food, drinks, and music — usually in that order of importance.


Holiday Food

Let me just start off by telling you rice and beans or moro (rice and beans mixed) are an absolute must. I couldn’t ever tell you of a time when rice and beans were not present at a family holiday. Another yummy dish we cook is Pernil. Pernil is a slow-roasted marinated pork leg or pork shoulder. I swear I’m salivating just thinking about it!


The other main dish my family and I cook is either a roasted chicken or turkey. And of course, we need to include the appetizers and side dishes! Nothing makes me more ready for the main course like homemade empanadas. Typically, we make potato salad and a green salad for the side dishes. At the end of the night, we enjoy a delectable Flan for dessert but this can vary from holiday to holiday.



In my family, it’s basically a rule to never show up to someone’s house on a holiday empty-handed. We typically bring a bottle of booze or a case of beer in addition to some type of food. My favorite drink is Coquito. Oh, it’s so delicious! Coquito is very similar to Eggnog but it’s made with coconut milk and either a variety of beer, wine and/or a variety of rum or cognac. We don’t discriminate when it comes to alcohol!



And where there’s alcohol there’s a good chance there’s dancing and my family loves to dance! And I mean loves to dance. Pre-COVID, we would dance at every single family get-together; holidays, graduation parties, birthday parties, summer BBQs – you name it! Dance is a way for us to celebrate major life events and holidays and we take every moment we can to celebrate life. If there’s anything this year taught me, it’s to savor every moment with your loved ones – life is so short!


We just simply have fun in my family. Sure, we argue, gossip, and especially criticize others candidly (not necessarily constructively; i.e. women call each other too fat or too skinny). But it’s all love!


Sidenote: Is it just my family or are your families extremely loud when you all get together? Because my family gets LOUD. We all talk at the same time and talk over each other, and yet somehow we still hear exactly what everyone is saying and continue speaking in a fluid conversation. It’s a super-power – I’m convinced! And don’t forget we’re still talking over the music we have blasting in the background too. 


And last but most certainly not least, the night is always capped with a good ole’ cup of Nixie’s coffee! 


Even though this holiday season will be different than ever before, we wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season from our family to yours!

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