10 Latino Childhood Experiences that Are Sure to Activate Major Nostalgia

Latino kids with water balloon

One of the great things about growing up Latino is that you get to have a lot of experiences that are unique to the culture. Only Latinos know the joy of trying to get as many toys and candy from the piñata as possible, no matter who you have to hurt to get that bag. Even if you didn’t have a perfect childhood (who does, anyway?), you can look back at those quintessential Latino experiences and smile. We’re feeling nostalgic today, so let’s go down memory lane and look into the 10 childhood moments all Latinos cherish:

Quinceañeras and officially coming of age

young latina celebrating her quincea\u00f1era

Sweet sixteen parties don’t hold a candle to Quinceañeras. Like, not even close! Quinceañeras are one of the Latino traditions that truly stand out, and every Latina, if they chose to have one, can look back on their Quinceañera with fondness, even if it was debacle or in this case, Monster Energy Drink-themed to try to please your highschool crush. Decked out in a dress that could double as a cupcake topper, young Latinas dance the night away, soak in the inevitable chismes, and feel like royalty for a day. Even if you didn’t have one, attending one was sometimes even better. Who doesn’t love a good party with some top-level people watching?

Going to baseball or soccer games

people watching baseball game during daytimePhoto by Taylor Rooney on Unsplash

Whether it’s baseball or soccer, Latinos love going to a good game. When baseball or soccer season came along, you looked forward to going to games with the entire family. Uncles would get a bit hammered on beer, you got to eat churros and hot dogs, and you knew all the celebratory chants by heart. When your team scored a goal or hit a home run? Pure euphoria. There’s really nothing like cheering your head off with hundreds of other people who are just as excited as you.

Watching telenovelas with your aunts

Popular characters in Telenovelas

The drama, the tears, the betrayals! Watching telenovelas with our aunts was like a rite of passage. No Latino child ever forgets their first taste of telenovelas because it’s like being invited into the grown-up club! Who needed Netflix when you had María la del Barrio? Plus, you got to learn so much about life from listening to what your tías had to say about shady characters, toxic relationships, and dramatic situations. What a wonderful time it was!

Learning traditional dances

two Latina girls learning to dance

Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels

From salsa to merengue, we learned it all. Our family gatherings doubled as dance-offs, with tías teaching us the moves and tíos embarrassing themselves trying to keep up. If you can master the cumbia with your abuelita leading the way, you can conquer any dance floor.

Looking forward to Three Kings' Day (Día de los Reyes) just as much as Christmas

sculpture of the Three Kings in Mexico

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

The holiday season is over after New Year’s for most people, but Latino kids look forward to Three Kings’ Day in January as much as they look forward to Christmas. Or that’s how it used to be and it was glorious! Leaving out shoes for gifts and waking up to find them filled with treats was like Christmas 2.0. And the rosca de reyes? Don’t even get us started on the baby Jesus surprise.

Having water balloon fights on hot summer weekends 

Water balloon fights during Carnival

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels

Hot summer weekends were our license to unleash mayhem with a hose in the backyard or water balloons if we wanted to take it to the next level. It always turned into a water war with the cousins (and the grownups loved to join in too). Those sneaky ambushes and soaking-wet battles were the highlight of our summer. Sure, there was the occasional accidental hit to the face with a water balloon, but hey, all’s fair in Latino water wars.

Weekend carne asadas with the entire family

Weekend carne asadas in Latino family

Photo by Anna Guerrero on Pexels

One thing about Latinos is that we don’t actually need a special occasion to get together and have a blast. Not all families are the same, but most Latino families make the most out of weekends with a good family cookout. The smell of grilled meat, the laughter of cousins running around, and the sounds of cumbia, salsa, vallenato, or reggaeton in the background made for perfect memories.

Not missing a single birthday party because of the piñata

playing with a pi\u00f1ata

No birthday party was complete without the piñata showdown. It was a battle royale where candy and cheap toys were the ultimate prize, and God protect anyone who got in your way. It was so fun to take turns hitting the piñata with a stick, while some uncle, brother, or dad in the family perched precariously on a roof, tree, or just about anything with height to taunt you with expert rope swings that could compete with any cross-fitter. Extra points if said rope swinger didn’t accidentally fall after one too many drinks before the start of the event.

Smashing cascarones on your friends’ heads during Easter

Cascarones for EasterPhoto by David on Flickr

While most people think about egg hunts when looking back on Easter childhood memories, Latinos think of cascarones. Easter was all about smashing cascarones (confetti-filled eggshells) on each other’s heads. The fun was maximized when the person didn’t even see it coming. The end result of everyone looking chaotically festive with all that confetti in their hair was a fun but painfully messy reminder that after the fun, someone is always stuck cleaning up the mess.

Getting your face painted for Día de Los Muertos

closeup photo of latina girl with her face painted for D\u00eda de Los MuertosPhoto by Danie Franco on Unsplash

Día de Los Muertos is a time to honor loved ones who have passed on, and get our faces painted in the most beautiful (and slightly spooky) designs. Granted, not all Latin Americans celebrate this holiday, but those who do will remember the excitement of getting their faces painted, putting together the ofrenda with their families, and going to fun festivals.

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