National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year in the U.S. from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Beginning on the anniversaries of independence for Latin American countries like Costa Rica and Honduras, the month was established in 1968 as a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Hispanic Americans as well as the histories and cultures of their ancestors who hailed from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Of the 270-plus destinations Royal Caribbean cruises visit, there are many you can sail to like Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia. Each nation offers you the chance to experience its deep-rooted traditions. And every culture is different, with its unique long-held beliefs and customs, from cuisine and music to dancing and the arts.
Read on to discover five beautiful (or tasty) customs of these culturally rich countries:
Mofongo – Puerto Rico
One of the best ways to experience Puerto Rico is through the incredible cuisine—starting with mofongo and its unique blend of Indigenous, African and Spanish flavors. Among the country’s most iconic and popular dishes, mofongo is a ball-shaped mash of fried green plantains mixed with pork rinds or other meats, and it’s seasoned with garlic, salt and oil to perfectly absorb the dish’s signature chicken broth.
To sail to Puerto Rico, take a look at the cruises that will get you there.
Embroidery – Mexico
The art of decorative stitching, or embroidery, reportedly dates back to at least 1400 B.C. and has evolved from one generation of artisans to the next. Members of the country’s Indigenous communities are particularly skilled in this craft, especially in the creation of traditional clothing like huipil, embroidered tunics. Embroidery is also a key aspect of charro suits, which are elaborately decorated and worn on Day of the Dead. As you travel throughout Mexico, you’ll notice every region has its own styles, patterns and color schemes, all of which hold great historical and cultural meaning—such as Otomi embroidery, from central Mexico, filled with symbols based on native plants and animals.
Book one of the many Caribbean cruises that sail to Mexico.
Punta – Honduras
For many cultures, dancing is a beloved form of celebration. In the nation of Honduras, one of the most famous celebratory dance styles is punta: a dance that dates back centuries, originating with the Garifuna people. In Honduras, it is also known as bunda or banguity—meaning the continuity of life. Punta is not only a joyful, lively dance but also an expression of the struggle of Indigenous communities in Honduras and a physical representation of their endurance. Slightly different versions of punta are danced in other Caribbean countries like Belize and Guatemala as well.
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The Pot Gathering – Colombia
Around the world, people recognize the importance of quality time (and capturing the moment). One way Colombia encourages this human connection is through “El Paseo de Olla” or “The Pot Gathering,” a beloved custom that is particularly popular in rural areas. In celebration of community and cuisine, friends and families gather near a river to make a traditional dish: sancocho, a stew featuring over 50 ingredients—a few of them being corn, beef and plantains.
To experience the wonders of Colombia, embark on a cruise that stops there.
Punto Guanacasteco – Costa Rica
Much of Costa Rica’s history and traditions come to life through dance. And Punto Guanacasteco is one of the most popular traditional dances, considered by many to be Costa Rica’s national dance. Performed to sounds of marimba and bold percussion, the folkloric style is an expression of the country’s people, places and customs. The dance is extremely visual as performers circle the room with their partners, flaring colorful dresses of white, blue, pink, red and green.
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Ready to set sail to experience these traditions firsthand? Head here to see how you can visit these destinations and more on a Royal Caribbean cruise.