Puerto Rican Folklore & History

Every region, country, and land has their own unique history. With this unique history comes a reflection of the culture, along with the unique stories which have been passed down through the generations. The stories come to be known as folklore.

Puerto Rico

The main influence on Puerto Rican culture has been the Africans, the Spaniards and the Tainos. While there were other cultures in Puerto Rico aside from these, they were of the nomadic influence and little evidence of their time and life remains on the island.

Archaeologists are still working to figure out what life was like for the Tainos. Unfortunately, these pre-Columbian natives of Puerto Rico had no written language and left no records for future generations. However, most believe that the Tainos were originally from South America.

The earliest written records are from the Spanish colonialists who recorded many oral Taino legends. Many of the myths, legends and beliefs of the Tainos that were recorded revolve around their religious beliefs as well as such things as their origins and the origins of the sea, sun and moon.

As the Tainos rapidly became extinct and Spanish colonization continued, slaves that were both black and white were brought to Puerto Rico to provide labor for the new Spanish colony. Eventually, the black population became blended with the Spanish culture.

Today’s Puerto Rican culture is predominantly Spanish with traces of both Black and Taino influences. Puerto Rican folklore mostly reflects Spanish themes with adaptations to the island.

Carnaval San Juan

One of the most common Puerto Rican figures found in both literature and the arts is “el jibaro” (hillbilly). El jibaro is a venerated folk hero native to the mountainous interior of Puerto Rico. Today, artists of various disciplines are still fascinated by the jibaro and show evidence of this through their work.

There are also numerous legends which are about ghosts and demons roaming the island at night. Many of these tales revolve around these creatures hunting people or food, other times they protect lost pirate treasure.

While these are only a couple of examples, there are many more such folklore stories which are continually passed on to new generations of Puerto Ricans.

Mariposa poeta

Much of the rich cultural heritage of Puerto Rico can be found throughout all art forms of the country. One of the most common ways that the stories of culture and folklore are passed on, is through poetry and the art of the spoken word.

One of Puerto Rico’s favorite pastimes is Spoken Word, Poetry, Live Music and Art where native Puerto Ricans and tourists alike gather, both to express themselves and to bask in the glory of art.

Among the hottest destinations is the Puerto Rico galleries and restaurants, and Spoken Word, Poetry and Live Music Open Mic Cafes, like La Salita Café. These cafés offer poetry slams an open mic nights on a regular basis, where the art of the spoken word offers one of the highest forms of entertainment and pleasure.