Noche Buena. Hispanic American Christmas Stories


Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories
Edited by Nicolás Kanellos
2000,Oxford University Press
370 pages

THIS delightful selection of works by Mexican, Colombian, Cuban and Puerto Rican writers provides a rich insight into the way in which Christmas is understood and celebrated by the largest minority in the US. It brings together fables, stories songs and poems from Hispanic culture, and introduces the reader to the very hybrid nature of an annual celebration whose cultural forms have been shaped globally by the English-speaking world. We learn about the seasonal traditions in each of these countries that have been brought by immigrant communities to the USA, from the Mexican Las Posadas processions and Pastorela miracle plays to the aguinaldos or Christmas songs sung by Puerto Ricans. Kanellos brings to the reader’s attention the repetition of these traditions despite the juggernaut of Anglo-American cultural domination of the Christmas story in an effort to highlight the importance of their survival and specificity. Thus, Abelardo Díaz Alfaro’s satirical story “Santa Clo to La Cuchilla” tells of a teacher and his supervisor convinced of the superiority of American over Puerto Rican ways who provoke a cultural duel between traditions. The editor writes: “Díaz Alfaro, with tongue in cheek and razor-sharp satire ridicules the folly of imposing English as the official language of education in Puerto Rico and displacing Puerto Rican customs with those of the United States.” Moreover, by bringing together cultural snapshots from within each of the main Hispanic communities, Noche Buena provides an insight into a celebration that the editor points out is key to Hispanic culture in the USA when this is understood as unitary. He writes: “Christmas may mark a crossroads of cultural or religious conflict or adaptation for Hispanics, but their richly diverse literature reflects the unity and wholeness of their experience while living bilingual-bicultural lives.” – EC

Tell a Friend