Seattle's Child

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Bolivian Burien tradition holidays

The Erickson family Photo by Joshua Huston

Sharing time-honored celebrations

They're combining traditions from Bolivia and Burien, and they’re awaiting a fourth family member.

The winter holidays for Loren and Derek Erickson and their 13-month-old daughter, Isabel, have involved incorporating a whole slate of traditions – from as close as Burien to as far as Bolivia.

This year, their Elf on the Shelf (named Reyna) will make a mischievous appearance, and on Christmas Day the family will don their matching PJs. (Derek has even followed in his uncle’s footsteps and started dressing up as Santa Claus each year.)

But as a first-generation American, Loren has incorporated some of her favorite Bolivian holiday traditions from her childhood into her growing family’s celebrations. (And they’re expecting a baby boy in March.)

“My husband and I grew up in very different backgrounds, very different upbringings,” says Loren. “So now as we’ve started our own family, we’ve made a point not just around the holidays, but just in general, to pull from all the great things that our families did for us and have incorporated them into our lives.” 

Throughout December, she and her husband bake humintas, which are special corn tamales and known as a Bolivian delicacy. For Christmas Eve, they follow the recipe passed down from Loren’s great-great-grandmother for Picana soup – with a slight twist. Since they have transitioned to a plant-based diet, they don’t include the meat in their version of the dish, which is a Christmas Eve tradition in Bolivia.

The Bainbridge Island family wraps up the holiday season by setting out their boots and hay on the night of January 5, and then enjoying the small gifts left for them by Los Reyes Magos (the Three Kings) the following day.

“It’s really special to us to get to incorporate the things that were so meaningful to us as kids – and share them with our kids,” says Loren.

The Ericksons were photographed as part of Seattle’s Child’s 2021 Holiday Card Contest. 

See the other Holiday Card Contest winners in the November/December 2021 issue and online!

Nov/Dec cover teaser

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About the Author

Hallie Golden

Hallie Golden is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. When she's not writing, she's out running with her German Shepherd puppy named Wally.