What traditions does the community have?
There are a lot of traditions here that are different than those I am familiar with in the United States. For example, the times we eat are very different. It is hard for me to wait until two o’clock in the afternoon for lunch. I am use to having lunch around noon in the United States. I am also use to having a big breakfast. I was taught breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Here we have a piece of toast or fruit for breakfast. Not my normal eggs, pancakes or cereal. Then about five o’clock in the evening we have “once” which consists of bread and tea or coffee. Dinner is not served until 9 pm! These are just a few examples of the little things that make life here unique. Another one is the tradition of greeting friends with kisses!
What tradition did I learn about?
I learned about saying hello and goodbye with a kiss. Sometimes I forget if I am in a hurry and this can offend some people here. Not kissing someone hello or goodbye will often be interpreted as rude or cold-hearted. It is common here, but can be hard for someone who is not use to it. When kissing you normally just go cheek to cheek and kiss the air, but some people kiss your cheek. I do not feel comfortable kissing the cheeks so I just kiss the air. It is more the gesture than the actual kiss that is important. Usually the kiss is accompanied by a quick hug or half hug done with just one arm. The men here greet each other with a hug and a handshake. They normally do not kiss unless they are father and son or brothers.
Why does the community have this tradition?
It is common for Latin America countries to greet with a kiss or be very affectionate with their friends and family. The tradition probably comes from other Latin American countries or Spain. As I have learned, many cultures around the world have a ritual for kissing once, twice or even three or four times on the cheek when greeting and saying goodbye.
Is this tradition connected to its environment? How?
Although I cannot say how the tradition of kissing might be a part of the physical environment of Chile, it is a part of human history. Like hugging or shaking hands, kissing on the cheek shows intimacy and trust. These are important values for friendships. So, kissing on the cheek is a good way to show someone you are friendly and trustworthy!
I believe the tradition of eating later may be influenced by the economy and the people in the household having to work long hours in order to support their family. Many people in Vina del Mar take the bus or drive over an hour to Santiago to get to work each day and then again to return home. Many of the better paying jobs are in Santiago. This means by the time the father or brothers return home it is late in the evening. The tradition of “once” and eating later is to ensure the whole family will eat together. Families are very important in Chile and everyone enjoys this time together!