Latino Traditions

A Brief History of Mariachi Music

June 8, 2020Read More

The origins of the name “Mariachi” are still a mystery to this day. It was said to have come from the French word for “marriage” dating back to the French occupation of Mexico in the 1860’s. Given how mariachi bands were often seen playing at weddings, this was the popular theory for many years. It was even promoted on record sleeves and travel brochures, but has since been proven incorrect by historians. It is now thought to be of indigenous origin, representing the wood used to create ancient instruments and dancing platforms. Though the name has long remained a mystery, mariachi goes far beyond music.

The Rise of the Mariachi

The mariachi movement began in Jalisco, Mexico during the 19th century; but the common perception of the mariachi as we know them today was developed in the early 20th century. The music was transformed from regional folk to an urban phenomenon and came to represent all of Mexico. After the Mexican revolution, the Mexican government was heavily involved in cultural promotion as a way to create a new national identity. With their songs of loyalty, love, politics, and revolutionary heroes; mariachi became a symbol of freedom for the people of Mexico.

Tools of the Trade

Aside from fierce musical talent, a passion for all things Mexican, and a snazzy charro outfit; a true mariachi band thrives on a variety of different instruments. These are the common instruments of the mariachi:

Mariachi Strings

Vihuela: The vihuela is a creation of the Coca Indians of Southwestern Jalisco in Mexico. It has five strings and a bowed back, and it is slightly larger than a ukulele. It is played with a thumb pick in the rasqueado (strummed) style and is the harmonic foundation of the mariachi band.

Acoustic Guitar: A standard guitar is used and serves to supplement the vihuela as a rhythmic element in the mariachi band. The guitar and the vihuela typically play the same rhythmic patterns and keep a strong foundation for the group.

Guitarrón: The guitarrón is the bass foundation of the group and is arguably the most important element in the mariachi band. It serves not only as the bass of the group, but it gives the group its characteristic sound. It is said that if there is no guitarrón, there should be no performance.

Trumpet: A standard trumpet is used at various times, and supports the melody, adding an extra bit of soul to the mariachi band.

Violin: A standard violin is also used to provide rich texture and added emotional weight. Due to the versatility of the instrument, this tone can change from sadness to happiness in an instant.

Other instruments: There are occasions when instruments such as the flute, French horn, accordion, and organ are used, though these instruments are typically used for more specific arrangements.

Mariachi Music of Modern Day

During the 1950s Mariachi culture became deeply rooted in the United States, later expanding to the rest of the world. Today, mariachi music is played in places as far away as Japan and Europe; bringing their vibrant and often uplifting music to a whole new audience. Mariachi transcends both borders and ethnicity. It is more than just the music of a country. It is the music of pride, tradition, and freedom. If you are interested in learning more about Mexican/Latin culture, come out and visit us!

An Introduction To Latin American Cuisine History

February 25, 2020Read More

The term Latino refers to a native or inhabitant of Latin America or a person of Latin American origin living in the United States. This Latin American culture is a combination of Spanish cuisine and traditional ingredients with later European influences of Germany, Italy, France and the Middle East. But to find a truly unique infusion of the flavor of Latin American, we have to look to South America including Bolivia, Columbia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil where the food is not one unified cuisine, but a mix of many different cultures. The long coastline of Chile along with the fertile farmlands of Argentina make for a unique blend of flavors and foods ranging from grilled meats or parrilla from grass fed beef cattle to flavorful fish stews and Chilean Sea Bass.

pan seared chilean sea bass

From the superb seafood choices and grilled meats of Argentina to the lush fruits and vegetables of the Brazilian Rainforest, this area is a melting pot for the infusion of cultures that make up the tastes of Latin America. A popular snack in Latin American cuisine, anempanada (pastelin Brazilian Portuguese andsalteñain Bolivia) is a baked or fried bread or pastry which is stuffed with meat, cheese, huitlacoche (“corn smut”, a delicacy in Mexico), vegetables or fruits, among other fillings.

Latin American food has become a popular trend for those looking to experience the exotic cuisine of our neighbors to the south. As a result of that growth, a burst of not only Mexican food, but also Central and South American cuisine sprang onto the culinary scene.

Our menu represents a delicious mix of food from our many cultures. We promise you fresh ingredients; hand-crafted cooking and Abuela’s (granny’s) lifelong recipes that will allow you to savor our Latin American Culture with every bite that you take. We use local, in-season, readily available ingredients in our restaurant and kitchen. All of our glorious foods are prepared from time-honored family recipes and served with the true warmth and hospitality we’ve come to associate with Latin Culture. We welcome you all as guests and as family of our beloved heritage.

Latin American Traditions: Altars And Dia De La Muertos

October 4, 2019Read More

Halloween in America is vastly different from Dia De La Meurtos In Latino Countries. While both focus on themes that encompass death, they have vastly different purposes. In the United States Halloween has taken on a secular commercialized nature. It features costumes but looks at death in almost brash jestful way, making caricatures of scary costumes and celebrating the holiday with movies that are designed to scare you, all from the safety of a theater or couch.

latin customs

Dia Del La Muertos follows lays down a sharp contrast to the playfulness and commercialism of this type of Halloween. First it starts the day after Halloween. It is not about fun, parties, scary movies, or a playful view of death. It focuses on a more spiritual aim. The goal is to honor deceased love ones. It is a sacred holiday that is about family and celebrating their lives.

There are many traditions surrounding this holiday. One tradition that is prominent is the use of altars to honor loved ones. The altar is a good symbol of the true purpose of this holiday. The altar is an offering place where family and friends make offerings to honor deceased relatives. You most often see these at the graveside or in homes.

latin traditions


Families construct altars at home and at gravesites to honor those that have passed. This can include a myriad of things like

  • Sweets
  • Photos
  • Symbolic items
  • Flowers
  • Bread
  • Candles
  • Tamales
  • Dolls
  • Assorted Toys

These can be very elaborate but it represents how different Dia De La Muertos is from American Halloween. The focus is on honoring and celebrating the departed. The altars are not necessarily designed to be sad. They are there to celebrate life in a tasteful way. Different Latin American or South American countries have different traditions that they do for this somber yet peaceful holiday. Regardless, you will see alters at many of them.



Day of the Dead altars: What’s on a traditional version. (2016, October 3). Retrieved from

Day of the Dead. (2001, October 28). Retrieved from

Mother’s Day In South America

April 27, 2019Read More

Some things transcend nations, languages, and cultures. Whether you are in Asia, North America, Central America or South America you can bank on this truth. We all love our Moms! That being said many countries have there own select customs to honor their Mothers.

According to an article in TripSaavy there are a wide array of different traditions to celebrate Mother’s Day In South America. Here are a few of the differences you might discover in your travels into Latin America:

latin america mothers day traditions


In Argentina Mother’s Day is hosted in the Fall, on the 3rd Sunday In October. This may seem a little different to us but remember the seasons area different in Latin America, with October being more like our Spring than May.


In Bolivia Mother’s Day celebrations have been combined with Independence Day events commemorating Bolivia’s independence over Spain. This is to honor the role women played in fighting against the Spanish.


In Ecuador you might see groups of male performers singing the praises of Mom in and out of different neighborhoods in public performances celebrating Mom.


One Peruvian Mother’s Day tradition is to make a visit to the cemetery to honor Mom’s who have passed on.

Regardless of the custom, Mother’s are the bedrock of society. Whether Latin America or North America, we strive to honor and thank them in many different ways.
mothers day restaurant williamsburg va





Brogan, A. (2016, February 24). You Won’t Believe these Mother’s Day Traditions in South America. Retrieved from

Latin American Holiday Food Traditions: Desserts

December 1, 2018Read More

There can be no holidays without desserts. While no one calls food the universal language, I wish they did. Every culture has holidays and more than not, sweets and desserts are involved. The Latin American Countries and their cultures are no different.

No they are not all exactly the same. Every culture has a different idea of size, shape, texture, and of course sweetness. They are all delicious and this is the uniting factor. But even with all the differences you can see some familiar themes. Three of these traditional items you will find in Latin American countries that fit this mold are Pannettone, Bunuelo and Coquito.

Latin America Christmas Traditions


This product originated in Europe but quickly found itself migrating to Latin American Shores following the Second World War. To sum it up simply, Panettone is the European and Latin American Fruit Cake. No I have not read one thing that called it a fruit cake. But the description was that of a sweet bread, formed into a shape, and filled with raisins and candied fruits. You know the saying if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…then it is a.

Regardless it has transcended borders to give the universal gift of fruity sweet bread to the denizens of South American. Large Vida Pastel De Frutas.


Moving on to the Bunuelos. The name sounds very exciting but it is very familiar as well. It is fried dough topped with something sweet. Usually it is a round shaped but can be irregular. While toppings and fillings vary among many Latin American Countries, it looks a lot like a..Doughnut. But better than a donut, it is another sweet tradition whose design clearly transcends borders. And besides, who can resist a donut?

Christmas sweets and treats from Latin America


This one has to be my favorite. Found primarily in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean it seems to resemble a popular drink in North American Christmas Dessert Culture. The drink I am speaking of is..eggnog. The coquito is basically this with a lot of enhancements. This includes coconut milk, coconut cream and of course rum. Eggnog never had it so good.

Pour me a glass of coquito and be generous with the rum! Happy Holidays!



Katel, J. (2016, May 25). Top Ten Latin American Christmas Food Traditions. Retrieved from

A Christmas Tradition In El Salvador: Fireworks And Festivities

December 8, 2017Read More

Latino Christmas TraditionsI

I saw a great article on Latin American Food And Christmas Traditions. The article could not possibly go over every thing done to celebrate the holiday season. But it did go over some interesting highlights that you may not know. As in America, Christmas has exciting traditions but they are not the same. One Tradition that caught my eye was Christmas fireworks in El Salvador.

Latin Christmas…Fireworks in El Salvador

This is one of my favorites. Christmas in El Salvador means fireworks. In many El Salvadorian locations you will see the sky ignited with bursts of colors. The streets will be littered with the remains of an intense launch of different pyrotechnics. But it is more than just. The fireworks are part of a larger tradition of festivities.

In fact they start on the 24th with the fireworks. Then there are special dishes that are prepared to enjoy as part of the celebration. It involves dining and dancing and is a celebration of a sacred holiday. And the party lasts all night, right into the 25th.

Now That Is A Way To Celebrate The Holiday!!


Christmas Around the World: How 6 Latin America Countries Celebrate Navidad. (n.d.). Retrieved December 07, 2017, from

Fun Facts about Christmas in Latin America. (n.d.). Retrieved December 07, 2017, from

 “For Tourists, By Travellers.” WTF – Waves Tours Fiestas,