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On Fronteras: Tamales 101, The Story Behind Feliz Navidad, And Celebrations In The Southwest

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Left to right: Gerri Misko, Toro Martinez, Mary Kay Misko-Martinez prepare traditional Slovakian foods for the holidays.

This week on Fronteras we look at some of the many ways families in our southwest border states are celebrating the season.  Families separated by the border reunite.  A Slovakian wife and her Hispanic husband blend their cultures.  A Baltimore transplant tries tamales for the first time.  Musician Jose Feliciano shares the story behind his famous Christmas carol, Feliz Navidad.  And high school students in Allen, Texas pack their bags for the Rose Bowl parade.   

Posadas Sin Fronteras Reunites Families Separated For Decades

Families separated by the border received an early holiday present this year through a program known as Posadas Sin Fronteras, Christmas Without Borders.  The celebration was an opportunity for relatives to share the season after being separated for years. People gathered on both sides of the fence at Border Field State Park in California and Playas de Tijuana in Mexico.  KPBS reporter Jean Guerrero says the barrier prevented hugs, the families were grateful.

The Story

A Slovakian-Hispanic Christmas

Many different ethnic groups settled in South Texas, bringing unique foods and customs for the holiday season. Joey Palacios of Texas Public Radio visited one home where Slovakian and Hispanic cultures come together this time of year.

The Story 

How The Song Feliz Navidad Became Anthem Of Unity

Everyone has their favorite holiday tune. The American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers has a list of the top 25 most played and recorded Christmas songs worldwide.  As it turns out, Feliz Navidad is the only bilingual song on the list.  Joy Diaz of KUT in Austin says the beloved holiday song has become an anthem of unity.

The Story

An Allen, Texas Marching Band Heads To The Rose Bowl

One holiday tradition will require 700 plus Allen, Texas high school students and their chaperones to take 8 flights and 15 charter buses.  The Allen Eagle Escadrille marching band is headed to Pasadena, California to strut their stuff in the Tournament of Roses parade.  KERA’s Stella Chavez checked in with the band as they got ready to leave. 

The Story 

Making Tamales A Holiday Tradition

In South Texas, it’s almost a given that tamales will be served with the holiday meal. Tamales at Christmas are like ham or lobster in other parts of the country. When Texas Public Radio[s Louisa Jonas recently moved from Baltimore to San Antonio she'd never eaten a tamale. But now she's been initiated. Here's what she learned. 

The Story 

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.