Teaching Students About Santería


Santería, an Afro-Cuban religious and cultural practice, has deep roots in the history and beliefs of the Yoruba people of West Africa, who were brought to Cuba as slaves. As a fusion of Yoruba spirituality and Catholicism, Santería has developed into a powerful and spiritually rich tradition that is practiced around the world today. In this article, we will explore the importance of teaching students about Santería and how educators can incorporate its teachings into their curriculum.

Understanding Santería:

Santería, which translates to “worship of saints” in Spanish, is a religion centered around honoring Orishas – deities or spirits within the Yoruba belief system. These deities are often synchronized with Catholic saints, which allowed Santería followers to practice their religion covertly during times of persecution. Through rituals involving dance, music, and ceremony, practitioners connect with these divine forces to seek guidance and blessings in their lives.

Why Teach Students About Santería?

Teaching students about Santería offers many benefits for their personal development and cultural understanding. Some reasons include:

  1. Fostering cultural diversity: By introducing students to different belief systems such as Santería, educators encourage tolerance and respect for different cultures, fostering a more inclusive learning environment.
  2. Enhancing historical knowledge: Studying Santería allows students to explore the broader context of colonial history in Cuba and understand the perseverance of enslaved Africans who retained their spiritual practices despite harsh conditions.
  3. Expanding worldview: Through understanding Santería’s complex system of religion and its origins and growth over time, students develop a broader worldview that enriches their understanding of global communities.
  4. Encouraging critical thinking: Analyzing religion from both its historical and contemporary perspectives helps students develop critical thinking skills when dealing with various sociocultural topics.

Incorporating Santería Teachings into the Classroom:

To effectively introduce Santería to your students, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Use multimedia resources: Provide students with audio and visual materials that depict Santería practices, like traditional Cuban music or documentaries that reveal its cultural influences.
  2. Invite guest speakers: Reach out to local practitioners or scholars who can share their personal experiences and expertise on Santería with students.
  3. Organize field trips: Plan visits to museums, cultural centers, or religious sites related to Afro-Cuban history and Santería to give students hands-on exposure to this rich tradition.
  4. Discuss similarities and differences: Encourage classroom discussions comparing Santería to other religious practices or belief systems, highlighting similarities and differences in their origins, practices, and cultural significance.


Introducing students to Santería fosters a greater appreciation for cultural diversity, enhances their understanding of history, and expands their worldview. By incorporating engaging learning activities and drawing from a wide array of resources, educators can spark curiosity and promote open-mindedness among their students while uncovering the importance of this Afro-Cuban religious tradition.

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