Back to my roots: Blending my family’s culture through Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving blends my family roots though our Mexican traditions.

Jennifer Smith, Staff Reporter

Thanksgiving, mixed with influences of my Mexican and Black culture, has always been something big in my family.


My grandmother loved the holiday and incorporated our Mexican heritage into it. 


When we gather, we play a variety of music from Latin America, as well as soulful rhythm and blues from the 1960s. We cook Southern soul food, like cornbread, black eyed peas and collard greens.


My uncle Frank Rivera described it as “a traditional ‘50s American style holiday, but with a Latino and African-American twist.”


We also eat rice, tamales, and turkey mole with beans instead of a traditional turkey. After our meal, we cut a Jesus cake, known as Rosca de Reyes bread or Pan Dulce, inside of which is a baby Jesus. 


“The one who cuts closest to where the Jesus figure is will have a great fortune that year, and makes the family tamales for Christmas,” my aunt Margaret Fernandez said.


To spread this love and prosperity in our family, we pass out red envelopes to each other, our way of wishing one another good wealth and symbolizing thankfulness. 


“When bringing everyone together on Thanksgiving, everyone’s backgrounds are included and celebrated,” my aunt added.


The youngest children show off their creativity and put on a show similar to Christmas plays. We also sing and dance to the music our elders grew up with to honor them. 


“Coming from a single-parent family, we learned to value these moments and appreciate them greatly,” my uncle Mike Rivera said.


Although some traditions never change, new spouses included into the family share their culture with us, which changes some of our routines.


“We are an intertwined multicultural family with family members having spouses from different ethnic groups,” my uncle Mike said. “Everyone’s background is acknowledged.”


In this inclusive space, we add diversity and multiculturalism to American customs, matching America’s diverse and multicultural population.