Monthly Cultural Corner - August

August 2, 2022

Cultural Spotlight: Lucia Tapia

Lucia Tapia

Hello Penny Lane. My name is Lucia Tapia, and I am a clinical supervisor with the outpatient department at North Hills. I have been with Penny Lane for 10 years. I started  as a therapist and then transitioned to my role as a Clinical Supervisor.

I am Mexican American. Both of my parents were born in Michoacan, Mexico. My father immigrated to United States when he was 3-4 years old and my mother when she was 16 years old. My father was born in Curimeo, Michoacan where they are known for the folk dances they have every year. My mother was born in Obregon, Michoacan. I have only had the pleasure of going a couple of times to the small town/ranch that both my mother and father were born and grew up, but I have to say it is so beautiful and hope to visit more in the years ahead.

I was born and raised in the Valley, Van Nuys to be exact. I am 1 of 5 children. Growing up my family didn’t have much. I remember living in a one-bedroom house with my siblings and my parents for most of my childhood, however I never felt like I was missing something. I have two very loving, caring, and devoted parents. My father was/is a very hard worker and taught me the value and importance of hard work. My mother valued education and always encouraged me to do my best in school and rewarded all my accomplishments. I would not be able to share about myself/my culture without mentioning my parents as they are a big part of my cultural identity.

Both my parents are very proud to be Mexican, so growing up I was very proud to be a Mexican American and continue to feel lucky to share in the culture. Being Mexican American has been a blessing as I have learned, now that I am older, how to blend two very beautiful cultures and different traditions together. I grew up listening to Rancheras, Corridos, and Cumbias and loved dancing to this type of music when we would go to baptisms, first communions, weddings, birthdays, Quinceaneras and even just on the weekends. My family loves to dance.

There are so many delicious Mexican dishes that I enjoyed growing up. Some of my favorite dishes include enchiladas, tamales, mole, birria, but my absolute favorite food is still Pozole. I remember my mom would ask me every year on my birthday what I wanted her to cook, and I always said “Pozole please.” It is very delicious, so much that I learned to cook it and cook it now for my own children, and funny enough when I ask my 8-year-old daughter what she wants me to cook for her birthday, the last couple of years she has requested pozole.

There are so many cultural traditions that I enjoy. One that I have very fond memories of growing up, is getting together will all my cousins, aunts and uncles is when we used to “Acostar/Levantar al nino Dios.” (Put baby Jesus to sleep and wake him up) Every year for Christmas we would all get together at my aunt’s house where she had set up a Nativity scene.

The adults would choose a Madrina (Godmother) for baby Jesus. The Madrina would bring out the baby Jesus at 11pm or midnight and everybody would gather around and sing songs and “rock” the baby Jesus. The baby Jesus would then be laid down to sleep under the Nativity Scene. As a child I remember enjoying the fact that I was getting together with my cousins, we got to eat candy, we got to stay up and play until midnight, and then we got to open our Christmas presents. We would get together again for another party on February 2nd for La Candelaria/The day of Candlemas, where the Madrina would “levantar al nino dios” (wake up the Baby Jesus) and dress baby Jesus in a beautiful white gown. On this day all the kids would get goodie bags of cookies and candies. This was my favorite part as a kid. I really enjoyed this tradition because now as an adult there is much more meaning behind what I remember as a child. It is connected to my Catholic religion, which is very important to me.

Check out some of Lucia's family photos and traditions below...

Something that I wish people knew about my culture that they may or may not know is that everyone is so different, and their culture is so unique to them and their experiences. Not every Mexican enjoys rice and beans, not every Mexican speaks Spanish, not every Mexican likes to dance, etc. There is so much more to someone than where they were born or where their family is from. Everyone, no matter where they are from is special in their own way and has a story to share. There is this understanding that Mexicans and Salvadoreans have a dislike towards one another. I am happy and proud to say, this is not always the case, especially in my family. I am Mexican American, my husband is Salvadorean, and my children are a mixture of both of those cultures, as well as being very much American and they are the most precious thing to me. They love celebrating Valentine’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as love celebrating Mexican and Salvadorean traditions such as Dia de los Reyes Magos, Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Muertos, etc. My culture has evolved throughout the years, and it is expressed in everything that I do.

Given that my parents and my in-laws are primarily Spanish speaking I wanted to give my children names that I knew my parents and in-laws would be able to pronounce, as well as names that sounded good in English as well. It was important to me that they could say their names. I remember growing up people had a hard time pronouncing my name “Lucia,” it would get mispronounced/butchered so often that growing up it did not feel good, and at times I did not like my name so much.  I have since grown to love my name, as it was a name given to me by my mom, who had a lot of faith in Santa Lucia (St. Lucia) when she was growing up in Mexico.

Thank you for letting me share some of my family traditions this month!

-Lucia Tapia, Penny Lane Centers