Coronavirus scare hinders Hispanic traditions
SAN BENITO – The coronavirus is affecting where people go, how people do things and how they interact with one another. For Hispanics, it’s also affecting traditions.
Hispanics, as a culture, tend to be more affectionate in greetings and demonstrations of affection, especially with family. Now, with the concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19), experts are recommending Hispanics alter their customs.
Pan dulce and café – they go together like a hug and a hello kiss. Hispanic greeting customs are inculcated since childhood. With concerns surrounding COVID-19, some are foregoing the traditional hello.
“Right now, it’s not convenient to give a kiss and hug when we greet each other,” said Maria Reyes.
Reyes was born in the Rio Grande Valley and raised in Mexico. Warm greetings are common there and in Mexican-American families in the U.S.
“I do that with my kiss and grandchildren, yes. But, with other people it’s different,” Reyes said.
Reyes makes an exception for her family. Doctors are asking adults to be careful with children even if they are relatives.
“What happens is – let’s say you hug somebody or kiss somebody and then they touch that area and put it on their nose or mouth. That’s how they get the virus,” said Dr. Erwin Sanchez.
Sanchez is encouraging parents to keep surfaces clean for children and keep them from hugging and kissing friends and family. He recommends a temporary solution.
“I would just say wave at your uncle; wave at your aunt. Just try not to make them kiss or hug everybody in your family, especially if you have a large family and especially if somebody looks like they may have a cold,” explained Sanchez.
Breaking bread, be it pan dulce or carne asada, is another way for the virus to spread. Caution is advised in those situations too.
“Try not to share food or drinks. Definitely the droplets in either the straw or food could be contaminated, and contaminate the drink or the food, and the other person could get sick,” Sanchez advised.
Putting a tradition away, even just a little while, can feel it’s infringing on the Valley’s identity, but it can help preserve the things that matter most.
“Because we have family. I have a lot of grandkids and great-grandchildren. So, I have to take care of myself so they can know me when they get older,” said Reyes.
Next time greeting a friend or relative, try a fist bump. It's that easy, so no hard feelings.