20 Latino Experiences We All Know Too Well

a collage featuring iconic Latino items: confetti eggs, vicks vaporub, el niño Dios, caldo, fabuloso and a telenovela villain

If you grew up in a Latino household, there are certain universal truths that you can't help but nod in agreement with. From the mystical powers of "Vivaporu" to the joyous chaos of family gatherings that always, always, start later than planned. Being part of a Latino family is not just about shared ancestry; it's about a collection of hilarious, heartwarming, and sometimes hair-raising experiences that bind us together.

Without further ado, check out our list:


  • The Power of Vicks Vaporub - Better known as "Vivaporu," this powerful potion could supposedly cure everything from a headache to a broken heart. It was your abuelita's answer to all ailments. Got the flu? Vivaporu. Twisted your ankle? Vivaporu. Existential crisis? Well, you get the picture.
  • The Fear of La Chancla - Ah, la chancla - the infamous flip flop, often wielded by moms and abuelas, ready to fly at the speed of light to discipline a misbehaving child. It was a symbol of authority that taught you how to toe the line...pun intended

gif of a girl grabbing her shoe and throwing it at the camera

  • Telenovelas as a Family Affair - You know you grew up Latino when your family's schedule revolved around the airing times of their favorite telenovelas. Your abuela's tears during a dramatic episode were as gripping as the on-screen action.
  • The Magic Word, "Ahorita" - This elusive term could mean in five minutes, five hours, or even five days. This vague time frame was somehow universally understood, but only added to the confusion of our non-Latino friends.

a family feud meme that asks what does ahorita mean in spanish: now, later, in a bit or right now

  • Sancocho Sundays (for many Latinos as this is a regional Caribbean-inspired dish) - The tantalizing smell of a simmering pot of sancocho filling the house on a Sunday was the epitome of comfort and family time. It didn't matter if the weather was 100 degrees outside - sancocho was a year-round delight.
  • Cascarones at Easter - The thrill of smashing beautifully decorated, confetti-filled eggs on the heads of unsuspecting cousins during Easter celebrations. The glitter aftermath? Priceless.
  • Living in a Novela - Conversations with your tías could sometimes feel like you're in a telenovela, complete with dramatic plot twists, excessive hand gestures, and long pauses for effect.

gif of soraya montenegro gasping that says gasps in spanish

  • El Cucuy and La Llorona - Forget the boogeyman, these legendary creatures were the ones who kept you in check during your childhood. Their tales were the classic scare tactics, cautioning you against staying out too late or not going to bed on time.
  • Fabuloso Everything - Before there were fancy scented candles, there was Fabuloso. This cleaning product was the perfume of your home, leaving an undeniable smell of a clean house.
  • Dancing is Non-negotiable - Merengue, Salsa, Bachata, Cumbias... You were probably dancing before you could walk. From family gatherings to Christmas parties, dancing was not just expected; it was compulsory.
  • The Invasion of Tupperware - Any large gathering meant you were going home with a random assortment of Tupperware filled with leftovers, from arroz con pollo to frijoles negros.
  • Blasting Music on Cleaning Day - Saturday morning cleaning sessions weren't complete without a booming soundtrack of Latin hits. The louder Marc Anthony or Marco Antonio Solis sang, the faster you mopped.
  • @es_jenny_solares I’m in my señora phase and enjoying it ok 🫢🥲😂
    ♬ original sound - Jenny Solares
  • Quinceañeras over Sweet Sixteens - Why wait for a sweet sixteen when you can have a grand quinceañera, a dazzling celebration of culture, family, and the journey to womanhood?
  • Morning Rituals with Cafecito - Coffee wasn't just a morning beverage; it was a rite of passage. Sipping on the strong, sweet elixir as a family, often accompanied by pan dulce, was an experience that shaped your mornings and energized your day.
  • The Power of the Sobremesa - The art of lingering around the table after a meal, sharing stories, and cracking jokes. A simple dinner could easily extend into the wee hours of the night.
  • Being Late is On Time - Arriving "fashionably late" was just a normal part of family gatherings. An invitation for 6 PM? It was universally understood that meant 7 PM or later.
  • No Secret is Safe - News traveled faster than light in your family. Before you even got a chance to announce something, everyone already knew. From engagements to pregnancy announcements, your family was the original social media.
  • The Respect for Saints and Spirits - A house full of religious icons, saints, and the ever-watchful ojo protector. Your childhood was a blend of Catholicism and ancient superstitions.
  • Packed Cars on Road Trips - Family road trips weren't just for your immediate family. They also included cousins, aunts, uncles, and sometimes even neighbors. And don’t forget, everyone always brought enough food to feed a small village.
  • Love is Louder - Above all, the loudness was not just about volume. It was about passion, vibrancy, and love. From booming laughter to fiery debates, everything was done full-heartedly.

a gif from the show Pose showing people having a toast to family


Here's to the loving chaos, the unforgettable memories, and the strong sense of community and tradition that is growing up Latino.

a photograph of Wendy Carrillo

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