El Salvador culture. Getting to know Salvadoran Culture.

El Salvador Culture
Salvadoran Culture

El Salvador culture is a blend of Spanish and Native American cultures that began during colonial times. The modern Salvadoran culture today is influenced heavily by Latin American, United States, and European cultures. In the last 40 years, over 3 million Salvadorans have lived outside the country, most of them in the United States.

Over 30% of the Salvadoran population has lived for an extended period in the United States, Canada, and many European countries. A large percentage of these Salvadorans have returned to El Salvador and brought part of those cultures into the country.

The culture of El Salvador has been and continues to be influenced by religion, especially catholicism. Since colonial times, religion has played a pivotal role in shaping Salvadoran culture.

Salvadoran Culture
Independence day celebration.

The people

Salvadorans are family-oriented, friendly, kind, and religious. Family life is a significant component of Salvadorans. In this culture, it is common for the elderly not to live alone; usually, they move in with one of their kids. Additionally, families tend to live near each other; this is more visible in smaller towns.

Salvadorans are friendly and kind; yes, that is correct. Salvadorans will go out of their way to make anyone feel welcome in their homes and communities; they will also help anyone in need, even when they barely have anything to offer.

Lastly, Salvadorans are very religious people. Most homes in El Salvador have religious artifacts to show their devotion. Also, Sunday is a day when most Salvadorans go to church, temples, or other worship places.

Languages Spoken in El Salvador

Spanish is the official language of El Salvador; it is the language you will need for all business and personal transactions. Pipil, the language of the Pipil Indians native of El Salvador, is only spoken by a small percentage of the population in small towns like Nahuizalco and Panchimalco. Also, many Salvadorans speak English as a second language.

Nicknames for Salvadorans

Nicknames are a big part of El Salvador culture, most Salvadorans have a nickname, which has been given to them by friends or family. Usually, this nickname is a term of endearment.

Guanacos, Salvatruchos, and Cuscatlecos are the nicknames commonly used to call Salvadorans. Salvi is another typical nickname used in the United States by first-generation Salvadorans born in the US.

The most commonly used nickname to call Salvadorans is Gaunacos; Guanaca for females and Guanaco for males. Most Salvadorans will not have an issue when referred to by this nickname.

Salvatruchos is the second most used nickname for Salvadorans; however, this nickname is considered derogatory. Most Salvadorans will not like to be called Salvatruchos, as the name is used by the international gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

Cuscatleco is a nickname used by the older Salvadoran generations, particularly those born in El Salvador. The last nickname is Salvi, a term used by those born in the United States. Salvadorans born in El Salvador do not like to be called Salvis.

Customs and traditions

El Salvador’s culture is full of customs and traditions, some of which date back to colonial times. Some of the most widespread traditional festivities are celebrating Easter week, the August vacations, the Santa Ana festival, and the San Miguel carnival.

Each municipality in El Salvador (262) has its own festivities in honor of the patron saint of the municipality. This customary celebration combines religious events with fun activities for visitors; examples of these festivities are the Nejapa balls of fire festival, the day of the cross, and the Panchimalco palms and Flowers festival.

Culture of El Salvador
Kids at the Panchimalco Festival. Photo by @TrazeeTravel

Religion in El Salvador culture

Religion is a big part of Salvadoran Culture, especially Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church has had and continues to have a significant influence on the nation’s culture; for instance, most holidays in El Salvador have ties to Catholicism.

Catholicism, or the Roman Catholic Church, has the highest following in the country. It is followed by Protestant Christianity, which includes Anglicans, Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Lastly, there are also smaller Jewish and Islamic communities.

Salvadoran Cuisine

Salvadoran cuisine is a blend of Spanish and indigenous foods from native groups that lived in the country during colonial times. Corn-based meals are predominant in the Salvadoran diet.

Pupusas are the most recognized Salvadoran dish worldwide; this food is served in many restaurants worldwide as a meal or appetizer. In El Salvador, it can be found as street food all over the territory.

Salvadoran Pupusas
Salvadoran Pupusas.

Other popular Salvadorans dishes include tamales, different types of soups, Yuca Frita con Chicharon, Empanadas, Pastelitos, Quesadillas, Panes con Pollo, and many more.

When it comes to drinks, Salvadoran love Horchata de morro; this drink is prepared using Morro seeds combined with water or milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Pilsener is the beer that most Salvadorans drink.

Salvadoran arts and crafts

El Salvador is well-known for its colorful arts and crafts, which are made primarily in colorful small towns all over the country. For example, Ilobasco is renowned for its artifacts made out of clay, and La Palma in Chalatenago is home to Neift art invented by Fernando Llort.

El Salvador culture
Ilobasco craft stores.

Also, there is San Sebastian with its colorful looms, hammocks, and textiles, and Nahuizalco with its furniture and artifacts made out of wicker or tule. These arts and crafts are an influential aspect of Salvadoran culture.

Salvadoran Music

The Folkloric music of El Salvador is Marimba. This music gets played in combination with classical Salvadoran dances to show the culture of El Salvador.

Chanchona music and Zafacaite are other Salvadoran music played in small municipalities. Chanchona is an upbeat style of music that describes life in the countryside. Zafacaite is a fast-paced musical rhythm played by a duo or trio with a guitar, accordion, and violin.

Salvadorans love to dance; therefore, cumbia, salsa, and other tropical sounds are the preferred choice at home and during celebrations.

Salvadoran Communities

Salvadoran communities in large urban areas have a sense of community but not as much as those in smaller towns. In smaller towns, communities are different; people know almost everyone that lives in their community and collectively look out for the interest of those who live in it.

Sports in El Salvador

Salvadorans are passionate about soccer; this sport is the primary sport played and watched in El Salvador. Baseball and basketball are becoming quite popular in the country.

Alianza, Fas, and Aguila are three of the most popular teams in El Salvador; they play in the El Salvador Soccer First Division or Primera Division de Futbol de El Salvador in Spanish.

El Salvador culture

The smallest country in the Americas has a long history of great customs and traditions that have been past on for generations. These traditional traditions are what make the Salvadoran culture fascinating. Hopefully, by now, you have a general overview of what El Salvador culture is about and what to expect when visiting or moving to El Salvador.