Noche Buena: Hispanic American Christmas Stories

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Noche Buena brings us all the magic of the Christmas season as seen through the eyes of the Hispanic Americans who celebrate it. Christmas is a universal story, and many of the images here are recognizable across cultures. We hear and see proud, joyful singing; the adoration of the Infant Jesus; and the peaceful strains of "Adeste Fidelis." But we also connect with the rich traditions and legends specific to Hispanic culture, such as the celebration of the posadas for nine nights leading up to Christmas, with candy raining down from colorful swinging pinatas, eggshells filled with confetti, and beautiful paper lanterns crafted to illuminate the town on Christmas Eve. In "The Legend of the Poinsettia" we learn of a poor child who, embarrassed by the modesty of his gift for the Christ Child, shed tears on the dull green leaves of the familiar plant, miraculously transforming them to a brilliant red. And we witness hopeful children singing "If You Give Me Meat Pies," asking for the reward of warm meat pies and rice pudding in return for their sweet caroling.

Thirty-six inspiring literary selections comprise this enchanting collection of works from Mexican, Colombian, Cuban, and Puerto Rican writers -- writers who represent the range of Hispanic minority groups in the United States. Through these stories, traditional tales, songs, and poems, readers gain a true understanding of the importance of the Christmas holiday within the Hispanic community and begin to grasp the issues that inform the Hispanic American creative process -- issues such as communal identity, patriotism, poverty, assimilation, and religion. With vivid illustrations and original Spanish text for all poetry, this fascinating anthology will inform readers of all cultural backgrounds and give them the opportunity to celebrate this cherished time with a newly extended family.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Editor Kanellos, founder of The Americas Review as well as Arte Público Press, offers a compendium of 36 pieces from Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, and Puerto Rico—a collection celebrating al Hijo de Dios in highly literary ways, including stories, songs, and a play in verse. All verse is joined by its original Spanish text. The play is Los Pastores (The Shepherds), a long, anonymous Mexican miracle play of the Nativity that has been handed down since the 16th century, and gained by being dictated to, and memorized by, semiliterate, rural Mexicans to perform from memory as a community pageant in villages all over Mexico. "A Brand New Memory" is a charmingly up-to-date look at today's Christmas presents in Hispanic families, in an excerpt from The Greatest Performance, a novel by Cuban exile and immigrant Elias Miguel Muñoz. "Legend of the Poinsettia," by Pat Mora and Charles Ramírez Berg, tells of a child's tears turning the leaves of a poinsettia brilliant red. As might be expected, a superb Christmas book worthy its publisher and its subject, something that can't be said for all holiday books this season.Keane, John B. AN IRISH CHRISTMAS: Stories Carroll & Graf (256 pp.) Nov. 2000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195135275
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/16/2000
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicolás Kanellos is the first Brown Foundation Professor of Spanish at the University of Houston, founding publisher of the noted Hispanic literary journal The Americas Review, and a founder of the nation's oldest and most esteemed Hispanic publishing house, Arte Público Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I. Mexico and the Southwest
"Noche Buena and Religious Dramas" 25
"Christmas Eve"/"Noche Buena" 36
"Christmas Carols"/"Cantares de Navidad" 38
"New Year's Is A-coming"/"El ano nuevo se viene" 46
"Christmas Night"/"Noche de Navidad" 48
"The Star of Bethlehem"/"El Astro de Belen" 50
"New Year's Eve"/"Vispera del Ano Nuevo" 58
"Little Christmas Candles"/"Velitas de Navidad" 64
"Christmas"/"La Navidad" 70
"Samuel's Christmas Eve" 74
"Christmas Eve" 77
"The Good Eve" 79
"The Phantoms at San Luis Rey" 90
"The Margil Vine" 100
"Legend of the First Christmas at the Alamo" 104
"The Legend of the Poinsettia" 108
"The Christmas Spirit Tree" 116
"A Cold Night" 129
"The Night before Christmas" 138
"The Gulf Oil Can Santa Claus" 146
II. Puerto Rico and New York
"The Magi Kings"/"Los Reyes Magos" 156
"If You Give Me Meat Pies"/"Si Me Dan Pasteles" 160
"The Arandelas"/"Las Arandelas" 162
"Down from the Mountains"/"De las Montanas Venimos" 166
"Santa Clo to La Cuchilla" 170
"A Story about Santa Claus" 176
"The Day We Went to See the Snow" 182
"Christmas Was a Time of Plenty" 187
"La Nochebuena: The Best of Nights" 190
"Those with Less Shared More" 196
III. Hispanic Immigrant Christmas
"Christmas Eve"/"La Noche Buena" 202
"A Sad Christmas Eve" 226
Loves Me, Loves Me Not (excerpt) 228
"The Good Night" 247
Next Year in Cuba (excerpt) 262
A Brand New Memory (excerpt) 279
IV. Los Pastores
"The Shepherds"/"Los Pastores" 289
Bibliography 365
Credits 368
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