An Inside Look: Puerto Rican Culture


Izabella McKenna, Multimedia Manager

Puerto Rican people are known as the happiest people on earth, with a world record of having 19 holidays on their yearly calendar. Puerto Rican culture has a mixture of just about everything, Taino culture, Spanish culture, and African culture. 


Puerto Rico takes pride in its history. Puerto Rico’s first people were the Taino. The Taino were an indigenous group that lived on the small island 1,000 years before the Spanish arrival. When Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico he claimed it for Spain. Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist), but the name was changed to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican bloodline and culture is a blend of  Taino, Spanish, and African. 

The people of Puerto Rico come from many different cultural and racial mixes. In the 18 hundreds, Spanish people took the Taino women as their brides, later on when labor was needed the importation of African slaves came. A long time after Spain lost control of Puerto Rico Spanish immigrants still came to the small island and in the 1960s Cuban immigrants came as they fled from Fidel Castros Communist state. The immigration has resulted in Puerto Rico almost coming extremely close to living without racial problems. 


Puerto Ricans love to celebrate holidays. There are over 19 different holidays on their calendar. The small island has the longest holiday season in the world and they love it. Almost all holidays are held with festivals that are accompanied by food, dancing, colorful puppets, and songs. 

La Navida (Christmas): is one of the most celebrated holidays in Puerto Rico. It starts right after Thanksgiving day and ends in the middle of January. La Navida ends with a huge celebration called ‘Fiesta de la Calle San Sebastian’ this is time spent singing. Christmas eve is celebrated more than Chrismas day. The most common drink to have during this holiday is Coquito “Little coconut” which is an alcoholic drink similar to eggnog. 

Three Kings Day (Dia de Los Reyes Magos): occurs on January 6th. This holiday memorializes the visit of the 3 wise men (The Magi) who visited baby Jesus after he was born. The night prior to the holiday children place empty shoeboxes or other large boxes under their beds so when the Magi pass through they could get presents from them. 


Religion has and always will be extremely important to the Puerto Rican people. The indigenous Taino were deeply spiritual people that worshiped multiple gods that were believed to have lived in nature. 

Rachel Trotter says “When a man named Ponce de Leon arrived on the island of Puerto Rico in 1558, at least a decade after Christopher Columbus arrived. Ponce de Leon had brought Romain Catholic faith to the people of Puerto Rico.” Most Puerto Ricans hold Christianity near their hearts or at least have strong ties with Christianity. Every city has a saint that is celebrated with festivals. 

Suzanne Van Atten, author of Moon Puerto Rico says, “Some Puerto Ricans practice a hybrid form of religion called espiritismo, which combines elements of the Catholic religion and Indian beliefs in nature-dwelling spirits that can be called on to effect change in one’s life. Similarly, some Puerto Ricans of African descent practice Santería, introduced to the island by Yoruba slaves from West Africa.” 

Suzanne Van Atten said, “It also observes multiple gods and combines elements of Catholicism. Practitioners of both religions patronize the island’s botanicas, stores that sell roots, herbs, candles, soaps, and amulets that are employed to sway the spirits to help individuals achieve success, whether it be in business, love, or starting a family.” 

Suzanne Van Atten says, “Once the United States arrived in Puerto Rico in 1898, Protestantism began to grow on the island, and all major sects are represented. Pentecostal fundamentalism has developed in recent decades, and there is a small Jewish community on the island as well.” 

Famous People:

Puerto Rico is known for being the home of many famous Hispanics. These famous Hispanics include Ivan Rodriguez, Roberto Clemente, Daddy Yankee, and Marc Anthony. Rodriguez and Clemente are both extremely famous Baseball players. Daddy Yankee and Marc Anthony are celebrated singers. 

Iván Rodríguez Torres, nicknamed “Pudge” and “I-Rod”, is a former Major League Baseball catcher. According to the MLB website, “He played for the Texas Rangers, Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Washington Nationals.” 

Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker was a professional baseball right fielder. According to MLB Roberto, “who played 18 seasons in the MLB for the Pittsburgh Pirates,” Sadly Clemente died on December 31, 1972. 

According to Wikipedia, Daddy Yankee whose real name is Ramón Luis Ayala Rodríguez is a rapper, singer, and songwriter. He is known as the “King of Reggaetón” by his fans and critics. 

According to Wikipedia, “Marco Antonio Muñiz, known professionally as Marc Anthony, is an American singer, songwriter, record executive, actor, and television producer. He is the highest-selling tropical salsa artist of all time. The three-time Grammy Award and six-time Latin Grammy Award winner and who has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide.” Marc Anothony is famous for creating the song that most Puerto Ricans call their “national anthem” Vivir Mi Vida, at almost any Puerto Rican party you will hear this song being played. 

“Siempre pa’ lante, no mires pa’ atrás, ¡Eso, mi gente!, La vida es una, Voy a reír, voy a bailar, Vivir mi vida la la la la, Voy a reír, voy a gozar, Vivir mi vida, la la la la” – Marc Anthony

English Translation: “Always ahead, don’t look back, That, my people!, You only live once, I am going to laugh, I am going to dance, Live my life lalalala, I’m going to laugh, I’m going to enjoy, Live my life lalalala”