Monthly Cultural Corner - January 2024

January 7, 2024

Cultural Spotlight: Daisy De Jesus

My name is Daisy De Jesus, and I am the Regional Director For Intensive Services in Lancaster. I recently celebrated my 11th anniversary with Penny Lane Centers this past December 😊.

My family is from Mexico. My mother was born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico and my father was born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico. I identify as Mexican American.

I was raised in the city of Inglewood, CA until the age of 14 when my parents relocated to the San Fernando Valley, where I completed my high school journey. Growing up in Inglewood was a great experience. I lived next door to a Baptist church, and I loved listening to the gospel music every Sunday. I attended summer bible studies, even though it was not my religion; however, I felt a sense of belonging. I recall being the only Mexican little girl in attendance, but I never felt unwelcomed. I enjoyed my time there, the friendships, and knowledge I acquired.

I am a strong believer that music is to the soul what words are to the mind. I enjoy listening to Spanish rock, salsa, and cumbias.  

My favorite food is Pozole. Pozole is a traditional soup, typically made with hominy, meat, and seasoned with various spices. It’s often garnished with ingredients like radishes, cabbage, oregano, onion, lime, and hot sauce. I love the cold weather paired with a hot bowl of Pozole.

My favorite cultural tradition is El Dia De Los Reyes (The Three Kings Day). El Día de los Reyes Magos is a celebration that takes place on January 6th; It commemorates the visit of the Three Wise Men (Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar) to baby Jesus in Bethlehem. According to the Bible, they brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The Three Kings Day is a festive occasion. My family gathers this day and celebrates with a sweet bread called "Rosca de Reyes," which may contain hidden figurines symbolizing baby Jesus. The person who gets the slice with the figurine inside must host a party on Día de la Candelaria in February. This is when we typically make our Pozole 😊. One of my fondest memories of this celebration was leaving my shoe out by my bedside at night. The tradition is that before going to bed, the children place their old shoes with a wish list on top for the Three Kings. In the morning, the shoes are filled with toys, candy, and gifts from the Three Kings; this tradition continues to be one of my favorites to hold and I hope to pass this tradition on to my four daughters (Lilly, Melissa, Jazmine, and Georgia).  

People often associate Mexican culture with vibrant traditions, flavorful cuisine, colorful festivals like Dia de los Muertos, traditional music such as mariachi, and iconic art, including the works of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. What I enjoy about my Mexican culture is its rich history, diverse indigenous influences, and warm hospitality.

One cherished childhood memory involved eagerly waking up to discover the thoughtful gifts from the three wise men. Among them was a doll I named Pelon, due to its lack of hair. Pelon became my favorite companion, accompanying me everywhere and even receiving a wardrobe of baby clothes.

I feel Penny Lane showcases diversity through their efforts in equity and inclusion by creating an atmosphere that promotes a feeling of acceptance and empowerment.

-Daisy De Jesus, Penny Lane Centers

Check out some more photos below!