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Published: Friday, 12/6/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Center to highlight Latino Christmas traditions


In Colombia, people place candles and paper lanterns throughout their communities in honor of the Virgin Mary and the Immaculate Conception.

Christmas holiday traditions in the Dominican Republic include Nochebuena, the annual Christmas Eve celebration when families gather to eat a large meal of traditional delicacies.

Depending on region, Christmas traditions in Mexico can feature traces of indigenous practice, customs from Spain, or aspects of traditional practices familiar in the United States, such as Christmas trees.

All of those traditions will be discovered and celebrated during the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center’s annual “Christmas in Latin America” event Friday from 6 to 9 p.m.

The event at 1225 Broadway is open to the public with free food and refreshments.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Mary Rodriguez-Winter, the center’s executive director. “This is an opportunity to build our community and to help others better understand our culture’s richness. We’re trying to help the city bring our neighborhoods alive, beautiful, and clean.”

The event will get under way with the “lighting of the velitas,” a Colombian holiday tradition that includes the lighting of candles placed inside paper luminaries, said Maria Gonzalez, the center’s culinary arts and event coordinator.

The lit luminaries will be put along the block on both sides of the sidewalk in front of the Sophia Quintero Center, Ms. Gonzalez said.

After the outside presentation, the public is invited to join the center inside for a free meal of homemade enchiladas, both meat and vegetarian, Ms. Gonzalez said.

Other menu items will include Mexican rice and chorizo and white bean soup.

Local television and radio personality Maryori Rios, a native of Colombia, will present some of Colombia’s holiday traditions and history.

Mrs. Rios and her husband, Tony Rios, host the weekly Voces Latinas television show on Buckeye CableSystem Channel 69 every Friday and Sunday night.

A presentation of the play Te acuerdas? or Do you Remember? by Milva Wagner will focus on the holiday traditions of her native land, the Dominican Republic.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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