Family Tradition in the Poem Day of the Refugios by Alberto Ríos

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Every family, social group, religion or even an individual has their own unique and special way of doing something. Tradition is something that one is born into, or later adapt to. Tradition is the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice. In the poem “Day of the Refugios” by Alberto Ríos one is introduced to a Mexican family that is currently living in the United States of America. The speaker of the poem was born in Nogales, Arizona, on the border of Mexico and the United States.

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The struggle of being born in a country and raised by a different country makes it complicated to know what tradition to follow. Moreover, in the poem the speaker’s family celebrates the day of the Refugios; Refugios is a name of a saint in Mexico. The celebration happens on July 4th, on the other hand, the United States celebrates the day in which they got their independence also on July 4th. Although the speaker has the freedom and the right to choose which tradition to celebrate and pass down to her children, the speaker should continue the Mexican tradition because it honors her native heritage.

Do you have a family tradition? Is there something in your family that is passed on from generation to generation? Whether is a special bracelet or necklets with your family’s last name engraved on it, recipe books, or maybe becoming the owner of the family business. Well in the poem “Day of the Refugios” the speaker’s family passes on the name Refugio. “My grandmother’s name—here it comes— / her name was Refugio, / and my great-grandmother’s name was / Refugio, / and my mother-in-law’s name now, / it’s another Refugio, …” (lines 38 – 43). The name of Refugio has been with the family for three generations so far.

With that said, is the speaker obligated to name her daughter Refugio, since all the women in the family are called Refugio? Well, every family wishes that their tradition can last for eternally, however people face obstacles that limit the capability of continuing the tradition. The speaker is faced with the obstacle of living in the United States where July 4th has a completely different celebration has her family. If the speaker decides to name her daughter/s Refugio then her daughter/s will never experience what is like to wear red, blue, and white as well as seeing fireworks; because they will be celebrating their Mexican tradition.

In spite of people facing obstacles in keeping the family’s tradition, one must also take in consideration of how important it is to keep the family’s tradition going. One must agree and understand “…that tradition is the creation of the future out of the past” (Glassie 395.) The reason why we behave the way we behave is that our ancestor taught their children how to behave, and the children taught their children, etc., therefore it became a tradition that shaped the future. Every family has something that distinguishes them from the other family; that is their last name. Each family has a different last name and if they have the same last name it could be that ages ago they were family but got separated.

Nonetheless, last names are what keeps the family growing, once the youngest family member refuses to keep the family’s last name then that family will stop growing. The speaker agrees that Refugio was not an ordinary name, it was “Names that take a moment to say, / Names you have to practice. / These were the names of the saints, serious / ones,” Therefore, her family’s name was not a random name it had meaning, power, and colors. So, knowing now how important the name Refugio is to speaker’s family, does this change the fact that living in a different country “overwrites” or makes it okay to stop the tradition? 

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Family Tradition in the Poem Day of the Refugios by Alberto Ríos. (2021, Apr 03). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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