Category Archives: Culture

Spanish Music

Spanish MusicSpanish music is very rich in history and origin. It has a big role in the development of western music and has been influential on Latin American music. Spain is often associated with flamenco and classical guitar, especially by people who live outside of the country. However, Spanish music is in fact very diverse and it reflects the many differences among its regions and their traditional songs and dances.

Flamenco is a style from the south areas of the country while bagpipes are very popular in the north western regions. Spain played an important part in the beginnings of western classical music.

Origins of the Music of Spain

Spanish music has been influenced by areas around the Medditerrenean Sea including some European countries. Roman rule brought with it the music and ideas of the Ancient Greece before the Christian period began. The Visogoths, who were the early Christians of that time, followed their own versions of church music and took control of the peninsula when the Roman Empire fell. Simply put, there are about two thousand years of influences and developments that have affected the musical practices of the Spanish people.

Music by Region

Andalusia. Flamenco is the most popular type of music in this region. However, there are other music traditions that are practiced in Andalusia such as the gaita rociera (tabor pipe) and the panda de verdiales (violin and plucked-string type). The Sevillanas are usually related to flamenco which is why flamenco performers will always have at least one classic sevillana in their repertoire. Andalusia’s pride for songwriters and singers include Javier Ruibal, Carlos Cano, Aurora Moreno, Luis Delgado and many more.

Balearic Islands. Xeremiers or often called colla de xermiers is a traditional music in this region. It is characterized by the use of fabiol (five-hole tabor pipe) and xeremiers (bagpipe). Maria del Mar Bonet of Majorca is one of the most popular artists because of her political and social lyrics. Other well-known artists from this region are Tomeu Penya, Biel Majoral and Joan Bibiloni.

Catalonia. This region is most popular because of its sardana music that is characterized by the use of a cobla and other traditional styles of dance music. Music is a big part of any celebration and cercaviles in this area. People here are fond of using the flabiol, gralla, dolcaina, sac de gemecs and other traditional folklore instruments. The Catalans are also well-known for their creation of their own style of rumba which is referred to as rumba catalana.

Hispanic Literature

Spanish LiteratureWhen people talk about Spanish literature it means that they are tackling poetry, prose and drama that are written in the Spanish language. The development of Spanish literature coexists with other literary traditions from various areas in the same territory such as the Catalan literature and Galician literature.

During the early years, it has intersected with literary traditions of the Iberian peninsula including Latin, Jewish and Arabic. The literary tradition of Spanish America is an important part of Spanish literature in general. It has its own characteristic and form that dates back to the early years of Spanish conquest to the Americas.


The Spanish Renaissance started with the unification of Spain by the Catholic Monarchs and covered the reigning period of both Carlos I and Felipe II. The beginning of the Renaissance of Spain is said to have started in the year 1492. However, an exact date couldn’t be established due to multiple circumstances that took place.

The poetry during this period is classified into two different schools – Salmantine and Sevillian. The characteristics of Salmantine poetry include concise use of language, simply expressed ideas, realistic themes and short verses. The latter school, on the other hand, is characterized by extremely polished verses, focus on mediation rather than feelings, composed of long and complex verses, observation of nature and life and filled with adjectives and other rhetorical language.

Famous literary figures during this time include Garcilaso de la Vega, Juan Boscan and Cristobal de Castillejo.


This literary period took place in the middle of the Golden Age where Spain was governed by Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV. There were many religious, political, internal and international problems that occurred during this period which determined the characteristics of Baroque literature. This period is characterized by pessimism, disappointment, escapism, satire, stoicism and many more.

The famous literary figures during this time are Miguel de Cervantes, Francisco de Quevedo and Baltasar Gracian.


This is one of the shortest yet intense literary periods in Spain. It arrived late and was thought of as a complex and confusing time because of the great contradictions that range from rebellion and revolutionary ideas. Some viewed the period as a mere restoration of the ideological, patriotic and religious values of the 18th century that was suppressed by the rationalists.

Characteristics of romanticism include rejection of Neoclassicism, subjectivism, flight from the world and attraction of the nocturnal and mysterious. Literary works during this time were written with a fury of emotions – the writers formed verses from what they felt or thought. Literary critics found the writers’ works as a lyricism of great power that are vulgar and misleading.

The History of Sangria – a Popular Spanish Drink

SangriaThe Hispanic community is known for a lot of things and one of these is their love for party where they serve sumptuous food and refreshing drinks. The most popular drink that Spanish people serve during big celebrations like the Cinco de Mayo is Sangria. Sangria began humbly in Spain and has grown to be a favorite party drink all over the world.

Sangria was first tasted in the United States in the year 1964 during a World’s Fair held in New York. The Spanish community at that time served this fruity wine punch to the guests and the rest was history. Sangria was created based on the traditional red wine punch that was very popular in Europe for a long time.

The base of the punch is claret – a British term for Bordeaux wine from France. This is traditionally made from a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot wherein later brandy and fruit is added to enhance the flavor. The red wine punch was always served at parties during the 1700’s and 1800’s.


Sangria is a popular beverage in Spain and Portugal. It is named after the Spanish and Portuguese term for ‘bloodletting’ because it is dark-red in color. This drink usually consists of wine, chopped fruit, sweetener and a little brandy.

Variations in Sangria Recipe

The alcoholic content of Sangria varies greatly due to the many alterations that people have done to its recipe. It usually ranges from 4 percent up to 11 percent, depending on the ingredients used. Some use chopped fruits like oranges, lemons, apple, lime, melon, berries and pineapple. Others also put in sweeteners including honey, sugar and syrup. While others still add brandy as their spirit of choice, some people opt for other liquids such as seltzer, sprite or 7 up.

Furthermore, some chill their Sangria for as little as a few minutes while others let it mature for days or months. Also, some have it undergo carbonation while others do not. Here are some of the further variations that people do to their Sangria recipe.

White wine. Some Hispanics make use of white wine instead of red to make their Sangria concoction and they call it sangria blanca. Spanish folks who mix white into this beverage would like to lighten up the drink especially if they are using a heavy type of red wine.

Mulled wine. This is usually added to the beverage for a rich full-bodied taste together with a chilled slice of pear and some orange juice.

Hispanic Patients Utilize Herbal Remedies

herbal remediesDuring the last two decades, the use of alternative medicine in the United States has noticeably increased. The percentage of Americans who use herbs and other related products has risen from 33.8% to 42.1% since 1997 and it is believed that it has increased even more today. Majority of the Hispanic community believe that herbal remedies are just as safe and effective as prescription medicines. Thus, they continue to use and follow such herbal medicament for all sorts of illnesses.

Herbal medicines are being sold in markets and its sale level increases by 20% annually as compared to prescription medicines. The use of herbal treatments is not only patronized by Latinos because even financially well-off whites are fond of purchasing these products too. Generally, herbal products that are sold in the country are dietary supplements that are regulated under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education.

Safety, Effectiveness and Risks

The good thing about herbal remedies is that they undergo rigorous clinical tests and post-approval processes before they are sold in retail pharmacies. This is to ensure their safety and effectiveness. However, the scientific data to support such claim is not readily available to clinical practitioners. This suggests that herbal remedies may worsen some medical problems and conditions so make sure to consult your physician first.

Although the use of herbal remedies has increased in the U.S., there’s the speculation that adverse reaction to such treatments are under recognized and under reported. Herbs that are orally used constitute greater risks as compared to non-ingested treatments. You have to be very careful in taking such products as herbs may be therapeutic at a certain dose but can be toxic when taken too much.

Also, herbal remedies may have negative reactions with prescription drugs. The interaction between the two may either increase or decrease the pharmacological and toxicological effects of either medication that may result in complication. It is important that you communicate such information to your doctor to avoid the danger between herb-drug interactions.

Herbs for Chronic Conditions

Research has been done to prove the efficiency of herbal remedies not only for minor illnesses but also chronic conditions. The results usually reveal some positive and some potentially alarming effects of utilizing herbal or alternative treatments in the Hispanic community. On a good note, just walking into a retail store that sells herbal products is already a healing experience. The aroma from burning incense sticks is soothing and relaxing. In general, botanicas are vital purveyors of health care and well-being among the Latinos. However, if you are considering getting herbal remedies make sure that you also ask about possible side effects. Majority of the ‘healers’ who sell these products do not volunteer to offer relevant facts about herbs and their risky interactions with prescription medicine.

The United States Needs More Hispanic Doctors

Hispanic DoctorsAccording to the census results, the Hispanic community has the largest growth in population for the past few years. There is at least 34 percent increase in their 2000 numbers since the year 2009. Unfortunately, not the same increase is expected in the field of medicine. In fact, there is a shortage of Latino doctors and they are dealing with troubling consequences to handle the health care of the entire Hispanic community.

Even though the Latino population is continuously growing, it does not compensate for their presence in the medical field. They make up only 6.4 percent of the students coming out from medical schools all around the United States. This information is from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and it implies that there are 3,000 Hispanic patients to every Latino doctor.

There are many Hispanic residents that still do not speak English as their first language and this makes them relate differently to medical professionals. Having a lack in Latino doctors puts these patients in the risk of being marginalized by the country’s health care system. It’s important to have bilingual and bicultural specialist because some patients are just not comfortable to work with doctors who aren’t. This will make them more hesitant to seek professional medical help when they need to.

Health Care Needs of Latinos

Latinos and Hispanics have suffered from poor health care in the country due to a number of factors. About 20 percent of their population has lived in poverty during the year 2007, according to the United States Department Health and Human Services. Some of the factors that contributed to this are religion, fears, cultural differences and other social determinants.

Today, many of the Hispanics living in the country will be able to take advantage of better health care services through the ACA/Obamacare program. This is indeed a positive thing as it will also help them better understand illnesses and other health conditions that affect them.

Benefits of Having Bilingual Doctors

Majority of the Spanish-speaking patients are uncomfortable talking about their health issues with white doctors. They want somebody who understands their culture and at the same time give them professional medical advice. A survey has showed that even those who can fluently speak English still prefer to discuss their illnesses with a Hispanic doctor so that they can fully express themselves. For patients who can’t speak English very well, they feel uncomfortable about bringing an interpreter as it also violates some privacy issues.

Both physicians and patients are affected by this language and culture barrier because the doctor will be unable to get the whole health history of the latter. This will affect the quality of care that they are able to deliver as physicians. Furthermore, understanding the culture, customs and religious beliefs is also important to Hispanic patients. Sensitivity to such issues makes them feel that they are treated like people.

Hispanic People Face Challenges at Work

Work Issues for HispanicsThe Hispanic community is rapidly growing in the past few years. In fact, the United States Census Bureau stated that they now constitute around 25% of the American workforce. But however their number is increasing, they still face extra challenges like discrimination and unequal treatment especially in the workplace. It is very important to address these concerns of the Latinos to help improve their productivity, safety and understanding of their jobs.

Safety Problems in the Workplace

One of the challenges that Hispanics face at work is their safety. According to the Census of Fatal Occupational injuries, there is a high number of Latino laborers in jobs that involve high risks of bodily harm and injuries. Examples of these jobs are in farms and construction. The good news is that there is a decline in the rate of injuries happening in the workplace today. What’s alarming is that there is also an increase in the number of Hispanics employed in such jobs and that means that more of them are in risk of being injured or harmed.

Problem of Discrimination

Most Hispanics are being discriminated at work. Some areas of the country have a higher rate of discrimination problem as compared to others. This may be inflicted by the authority at work or simply by their co-workers. One of the factors that have triggered discrimination to be a serious issue is the focus on illegal immigration. Americans react negatively to Latinos because of this political issue even though they haven’t committed such crime. To alleviate the problem of discrimination at the workplace, employers should conduct diversity trainings and workshops that will help promote tolerance and understanding among all their employees.

Lack of Education

One of the biggest challenges that Hispanics face is their lack of education. Because many of them weren’t able to complete college let alone high school, this hinders them from getting a good-paying job. This is why they engage in high-risks jobs because they couldn’t qualify for better ones. Nationally, almost half of the Hispanic children entering kindergarten are unprepared for reading exercises. Latino students have very low percentage of proficiency as compared to whites and Asians. First generation Hispanics came to the country with most of them unable to receive any formal form of education.  Their inability to speak good English is another barrier that they face at work. Without the necessary language and educational requirements, majority of the Hispanic community many never get a high-income job.

Hispanic Pregnancies and Other Issues

Pregnant Hispanic WomenTeen Pregnancy

These days, the Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the United States. At the same time, they are also the youngest with the estimation that 40.9% of them are under the age of 21. With this information, it is also predicted that their population will continue to grow rapidly in the coming years as the young generation reaches adulthood and create families of their own.

One of the most prevalent issues behind this population growth among the Hispanic community is teen pregnancy. While the rate of teen pregnancy in the U.S. has dramatically lowered in the past years, the opposite happens for the Hispanic community. Young Latinas are getting pregnant before their time and the rate is pretty alarming.

Quick Facts and Figures

  • 51% of Hispanic women get pregnant at least once before they reach the age of 20. This rate is almost twice the rate of the national average. This ethnic group has had the highest teen pregnancy rate than any other minority in the country since 1995. Moreover, the rate of teen pregnancy for Hispanic women had decreased in a much slower pace than the other ethnic groups. Truth is, the rate has actually increased in 17 different states.
  • Only 77.5% of pregnant Hispanic women are able to receive the proper prenatal care at the beginning of their pregnancy compared to the national average which is 83.9%. Most of them do not receive any prenatal care at all.

Hispanic Traditional Beliefs

The Hispanic sexuality is surrounded by many beliefs and stereotype. However, these do not necessarily apply to everyone but continues to influence majority of the population. Most of the Hispanics living in the United States are Catholic which is why they follow stringent guidelines about sexual practice. They forbid any form of birth control and pre-marital sex.

There are Hispanic women who abide to these beliefs as their religion has a strong effect on their sexual practices. But there are also who do not follow such regulations and they engage in varying sexual activities. Moreover, since they do not follow birth control practices more Hispanic women are susceptible to acquiring sexually transferred diseases.

When it comes to the sexual traditional beliefs of the Hispanics, the older generation tends to hold the ideas more strongly as compared to the young ones. The younger generation is more inclined to the American culture which means that they are open-minded about sex before marriage. Since sex is considered as taboo in Latin culture, it is less likely for Hispanic families to discuss anything that is related to it. This is why adolescents feel uncomfortable or afraid to discuss their sexual concerns with their parents.

Spanish Music

Spanish MusicThe Hispanics are known for their love of party, food and music. It is part of their culture to celebrate every little thing that comes their way. Their love for music is as colorful and lively as their festivities. Spanish music is definitely one thing that’s admirable about this ethnic group.

Traditional Music

The Celtic people relocated in the northwest part of Spain in 1000 B.C. As a part of their culture, they have established numerous musical traditions in the region. Some of the most popular are music that includes bagpipes or gaita as they call it, flutes, drums, harps and other musical instruments.

Meanwhile, along the northern part of Spain Basque music was well-loved. This type of music utilizes a lot of vocals such as choir singing. They also used unique musical instruments like the Txalaparta – this is an instrument made from wood and is played with sticks. They also used the Txistu – shepherd’s flute and Alboka – a horn-shaped clarinet. They are very fond of incorporating trumpets, drums and other musical instruments in their songs and music.

The northeastern part of the country, on the other hand, is fond of the ‘Jota’ style of music. This style is characterized by up-beat rhythms with repeating patterns and tonality. Being a fun and exciting type of music, there is no surprise that it spread all throughout Spain in no time. When it comes to instruments, they love using flutes, tambourines, castanets and many more. They combine these with vocals and create magical music. As this style is observed in many areas of the country, there were alterations made to it. Some incorporates a slower beat to the Jota style.

The Flamenco is very popular in the southern area of Spain, particularly in Andalusia. It became known  across the nation because of its exotic character. Alterations and changes were also made to it as it was adapted worldwide. The blend from the nomadic gypsies influence is one of the additions that stood out from the rest. The Moors also created an impressive alteration of the Flamenco with the use of a guitar-like instrument that they call ‘Al-Khitara’. The strings of the guitar are plucked one at a time at different intervals. Furthermore, they have added clapping, dancing and drum-beating to the music style.

Popular Modern Music Today

Even though traditional Spanish music has been altered in many ways these days, you can still see its great influence particularly in the growing popularity of Celtic music. Nowadays, various genres such as rock, hip-hop and rap have been incorporated into the traditional music style of the Hispanics. Some of the famous artists and bands that can speak and of course, sing Spanish include Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin and Roxette.

Hispanic National Bar Foundation

Hispanic National Bar FoundationHistory

The organization was created in the year 1985 by dedicated Hispanic lawyers who overcame great odds to become successful in the law industry. They want to become role models to their fellow Latinos who dream of becoming attorneys too. This group started out small but continuously grew throughout the years and became a recognized national organization that offers scholarships, fellowships, conferences, resources and other support programs. It is their goal to help and inspire their fellow Hispanics to achieve academically especially in the field of law.

The Hispanic National Bar Foundation strongly believes that knowledge and diversity can help the communities. As the number of Latinos increases in the United States, the success of their youth in education becomes more important. The organization acknowledges that the Hispanics still suffer from lack of opportunities, information, financial support and other related issues while living in the U.S. This is why they act upon these concerns as the voice of their affected communities to achieve progress and improvement for their native group. Until today, the members of HNBF work on programs that will address the needs of Hispanic students and provide equal education opportunities – just as the founders had envisioned when they created the group.


The group’s mission statement is simple and clear – they want to help their fellow Latinos reach their potential through obtaining higher education and add to the diversity of legal professions. They want to establish in the Hispanic culture that achieving a higher education is an expectation and not an exception.

Future Latino Leaders Law Camp

The HNBF in Washington D.C. runs this program which lasts for 9 days in the goal of providing chosen Latino high school students the chance to learn more about the field. This law camp was established in 2005 to offer students the opportunity to come to D.C. and get to know more about college applications, meet influential leaders for support and tour different places like government agencies.

The law camp is free of charge but there is a non-refundable application fee of $50 and those who would like to join are responsible in arranging their transportation to and from Washington. They also offer scholarships depending on the financial need of the applicant/student. The organization is dedicated to helping the accepted applicants and their families to ensure that they can attend the camp and its related activities. This is one of the best opportunities that any aspiring law student should not miss.

Spanish Naming Customs

Spanish NamesThe Spanish naming customs are traditions observed when naming children who are born in Spain. These customs are also practiced in other Spanish-speaking countries, even former territories of Spain still observe the customs today.

Spanish names usually consist of a given name followed by 2 family names. There are two because the first one is the father’s surname and the second one belongs to the mother. But as the years go by, these family names can be interchanged if the parents would like to.

Most of the time, it is practiced to use only the given name and the father’s surname. This is what the Spanish use for legal and formal documents. However, influenced by the places where they immigrated to there can be variations with how the Hispanic community uses naming customs.

Spanish Forenames

A child’s given name is usually chosen by their parents. This is recorded in the Registro Civil (Civil Registry) for the legal identity of the individual. Nowadays, parents can choose any name for their children. There are still restrictions but they are not as rigid as before. The common sources of Spanish names are personal taste of the parents, honoring a relative, the nomina or General Roman Calendar and many more.

Some parents observe limited cultural naming customs and name their children only religious names. Some also have the habit of naming their offspring typical Spanish names like Antonio, Maria and Jose. These days, the only limitation that is widely observed by the Hispanics is naming their child insulting names. This is not allowed as a child should be given the right to keep his or her dignity.

Influence on Marriage

In Spain, a woman is not required to change her family name upon marriage. In most cases, like with high society meetings and with no legal value, the surname of the husband is added to the wife’s with the help of the preposition de. For example, if Maria Perez is to marry Jose Alvarez then her name would be Maria Perez de Alvarez. However, this name formatting is not observed in everyday settings and has no legal value.

Observation of Forms of Address

Elder men are formally referred to as Senor while women are called Senora. When addressing Hispanic men and women, they use the first surname of the person rather than the last – Jose Alvarez Perez will be called Senor Alvarez rather than Senor Perez. If the need calls for it, a more formal address would be Don instead of Senor. The same goes for addressing Spanish women (Dona), especially those that are high in stature.