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Celebrating holidays can always prove to be a difficult balancing act for first-generation-born Latinos. Many of our parents were brought up celebrating traditionally Catholic holidays like Christmas and Easter, but when coming over to the United States, a new one was introduced into the mix: Thanksgiving. But let’s face it, if there is any reason to bring the family together to eat a ridiculous amount of food, Latinos will most definitely be there.

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I remember growing up and watching films portray the typical American Thanksgiving meal with a perfectly glazed turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing and thinking, That’s it? The dinner was usually followed by a quiet, relaxed afternoon sitting around the living room, and, well, my Thanksgiving was never anything like that. Sure, we had a turkey and loved to shout over each other as we shared what we were all thankful for, but our menu and traditions definitely had an extra twist that were unique to being brought up in a bicultural family.

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As the holiday season is about to be kicked off, here are eight things that you will only see at a Latino Thanksgiving dinner that make this holiday amazing, delicious, and very, very loud.


You will eat pernil

Hello beautiful! #pernil #latinothanksgiving #oinkoink

A photo posted by Christine (@cupcakesandcomics) on

Your mom will be marinating your 50-pound turkey in all sorts of mojitos for three days, but your tía will also show up with a pernil because pork always needs to be on the menu. Sometimes I feel like that turkey is only a prop for the half-hour family photo shoot before dinnertime.


You will eat later in the evening

While most families would be gathering around the table at an appropriate time like 6 p.m., your Latin family generally needs to wait a few extra hours for all the extended primos and tías to finish rolling in. Also, you usually need some extra food prep time in between stopping for all the hello kisses and moving around the eight women hogging up the kitchen.


You will notice music rules over football

This is what our family get togethers look like ???? #latinothanksgiving #familia

A video posted by Elitha Leilani Diaz (@squirrelithacorn) on

Unless we're talking fútbol, televised sporting events are of very little consequence. Your tío will be fumbling around on his iPad to find that perfect salsa playlist and it will be loud. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade or the football game might be playing on the television, but on mute, of course. 


You will drink coquito

I don't know about you, but one of the most important parts of a holiday get-together is the make-shift bar situation in the kitchen. While coquito and eggnog are usually reserved for Christmastime, Latinos see no problem in kicking off the festivities the month before. How else are the tíos going to get emotional while talking about the old days and singing along to boleros?


You will be asked about your personal life

Holiday time for Latinas means that the status of your love life and uterus will be openly discussed. Usually this means that once your cousin is done introducing her new boyfriend to the whole family, Abuela will hit you with the dreaded "Y tu novio?" which opens up the line of questioning and comments from everyone. Even your cousin's friend's aunt will have something to say about it.


You will eat flan, perhaps pumpkin flan

One of my favorite all-American traditional Thanksgiving dishes is apple pie. My family always had a pie of some sort, but pumpkin flavors usually came in the form of flan. You can't forget the tres leches and various sweet pastelitos.


You will see family sitting on any imaginable surface

Your Latino family dinner will probably be much bigger than any massive table can hold, so that means every possible seating will be utilized. I am talking fold-up chairs, ottomans, and those computer chairs from the upstairs office. Another smart group will probably be lucky enough to snag a spot on the couch, closest to the music, of course.


You will dance

Rajaton in the cusati house

A video posted by Geo Cusati (@g30bonez) on

Once the coquito is flowing, the only logical next step is to turn your living room into a dance club. There is no better way to make room for more food than to dance to some cumbia and sing out loud with all of your loved ones. Being related to rock stars that are totally down for this is something to be thankful for.