For the second consecutive year, the Church’s annual Latino cultural celebration — “Luz de Las Naciones” (“Light of the Nations”) — will be a virtual event.
The decision to present the beloved program in a virtual format was prompted, of course, by the ongoing pandemic. For years, legions of Latino Latter-day Saints and their friends would gather in the Conference Center to enjoy, in person, rousing music and dance and listen to Christ-themed messages.
While the 2021 iteration of “Luz de Las Naciones” will not be live, el espectáculo debe continuar — the show must go on. The prerecorded program will be broadcast on Saturday, Nov. 20, and can be viewed on the Church’s Live Broadcast page and YouTube beginning at 7 p.m. Mountain Time.
This year’s theme is “Una Luz Para Todos” (“A Light for Everyone”) and will feature a cast of hundreds of Latino dancers, singers and other performers who are Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith.
The upcoming virtual “Luz de Las Naciones” program — which is once again designed to cultivate unity across vast Latin American communities — will conclude with a prerecorded message from Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Christofferson’s love and admiration for Latin America and its diverse, rich culture is well-known. He served a full-time mission to Argentina as a young man and continues to utilize his Spanish-language skills in a variety of ecclesiastical assignments.
The popular annual event originated in 2002. The 2020 version was a reminder of the program’s broad reach. Viewership was high across the Americas, including the United States and Canada, and Europe.
Performances for the virtual 2021 “Luz de Las Naciones” were shot in a variety of Utah locales. Expect to see a modern, urban Latino influence in some of the new musical numbers.
The roots of “Luz de Las Naciones” stretch back to the 1920s, when missionaries began preaching in Spanish among Mexicans living in Salt Lake City. Within a year, a mission was organized, and two years after that, a small Spanish-speaking branch was created as families from Latin America and Spain immigrated to Salt Lake City.
By 1960, this branch had grown and was known as the Lucero Ward.
From the beginning, Church leaders encouraged members of the Lucero Ward to develop their talents. Local leaders organized groups to help youth gain confidence in singing, dancing and dramatic performance. One of these groups performed in the 1930 Church centennial celebration in the Tabernacle.
Dance and music programs helped these Latter-day Saints preserve their culture and pass on their language to the next generation. Other Latter-day Saint congregations in search of cultural entertainment for their social gatherings began requesting “Mexican Fiesta” entertainment at ward dinner parties. Ward members used these opportunities to raise funds for a new chapel.
The abundance of talent cultivated through these performances was passed on to succeeding generations and eventually helped produce what is now “Luz de Las Naciones.”