20 Characteristics of Mexican Culture and Popular Traditions

Artissimomexico.com – he Mexican culture is the product of a mixture of customary practices and traditions with a Spanish colonial presence that had a very strong impact on all areas of life.

There has been a constant struggle on the part of Mexicans throughout history to define and promote Mexican identity. However, with such political instability, wars with the United States and France, and colonial occupation, Mexican society has often struggled to form a cohesive identity.

The characteristics of Mexican culture fall into very diverse domains that include large differences in identity. Various influences throughout Mexican history, from the ancient Mayan civilization to a dominating European presence, have come to define the exciting country that is Mexico today.

Because of this, Mexican art and literature also has a tumultuous history. There are a variety of beautifully preserved Mayan and Aztec buildings and many of their traditions have been preserved.

However, with the effects of colonization, much of Mexican literature borrowed techniques and ideas from Europe.

It wasn’t until the post-revolutionary period that the arts in Mexico began to develop their own unique characteristics and soon this evolution produced some of the most well-known figures in international art and literature.

20 Characteristics of Mexican Culture and Popular Traditions

Mexican Culture

1- Politeness

Attitude matters. In Mexico, if someone is invited by their family to their home, it is traditional to bring flowers. Hosts will also make it a priority to make guests welcome and comfortable..

Talking loudly is also rude behavior and care must be taken not to offend the other person.

2- May 5th Feast

Although it is not a recognized holiday in Mexico, May 5 is a memorable date in the history of this country.

On this day in 1862, brave Mexican soldiers defeated an invading French army (the most powerful force at the time) at the Battle of Puebla. The anniversary of this unexpected victory is celebrated sporadically in Mexico.

Demographic changes have turned the date into a cultural festival where Mexican culture is celebrated with festivals, food and drink. May 5th is accepted in the United States as a way to create pride among Mexican Americans.

3- New Year’s rituals

Some Mexican New Year rituals have a religious background, while others are simply out of curiosity.

Each one is transmitted from generation to generation and share the same intention to awaken the hope of better days. Here are some ways to celebrate New Year according to Mexicans:

  • Lentils are scattered around the door as a symbol of abundance. Some eat some lentils.
  • Putting coins in shoes or pockets is thought to attract economic prosperity.
  • Sweeping out of the house, taking all the bad from the previous year. In general, a thorough house cleaning gets rid of bad vibes and makes room for better things to come.
  • It is customary to turn on every house light at night to radiate prosperity and success in the New Year.
  • Make a handwritten wish list for the New Year and keep it on hand for the rest of the year.
  • It is traditional to eat 12 grapes when the countdown begins to welcome the New Year. Each grape represents a wish.
  • She threw a glass of water out of the house and onto the street to get the tears, worry and negativity out of her house and life.

4- Day of death

A two-day national holiday in Mexico, Day of the Dead is observed to honor and remember loved ones who have died.

November 1, or All Saints’ Day, is dedicated to young children who have died, known as little angels or “little angels”. November 2, or All Saints’ Day, is a day to remember elder family and friends.

Contrary to popular belief, Day of the Dead isn’t its spooky counterpart to Halloween. It is a day of happiness and love more than sadness and fear.

The celebration is bright and cheerful, not terrible. The family altar is happily decorated with photographs, gifts, souvenirs and food offerings.

5- Traditional Mexican food

Mexico’s culinary heritage is a rich and delicious tradition. Basic foods used in Mexican cooking include beans, real tripe, chili peppers, avocado, tomatoes and pumpkin.

6- Traditional music

The Aztec, Mayan and Iberian cultures have influenced Mexican culture. Music has played an important role and, given that Mexico was colonized by Spain for 300 years, Spanish influence is part of the country’s musical tradition.

Traditional music is not only one of Mexico’s customs, but also an identity for each region of the country, which makes for a diverse and interesting piece of history. One of the most popular and easily recognizable sounds is mariachi which originates from the state of Jalisco.

7- Wedding Traditions

One of the traditions associated with marriage in Mexico is that of the priest who gives thirteen gold coins to the groom, who then offers them to his girlfriend.

This Mexican custom symbolizes Jesus Christ and his twelve apostles and symbolizes the nature and ability of a groom to care for his future wife during their marriage.

It is also a Mexican tradition that the godparents are part of the ceremony and give the couple a Bible and a rosary.

8- Christmas in México

Christmas customs in Mexico continue to have strong Catholic roots. A procession takes a child Jesus to the nativity scene in a local church or outlines a place in people’s homes with a reconstruction of Mary and Joseph’s bed in Bethlehem.

Traditionally, a lullaby is sung to the newborn Jesus at midnight mass during the period known as the Mass of the Rooster and it is the time when the baby Jesus is added to the crib in the manger.

9- Take a nap

Among Mexico’s diverse and ancient traditions are those that have been forgotten or lost.

Among the latter is a popular Mexican custom known as “napping”. Shops close for a few hours in the afternoon to allow owners and employees to rest.

Although due to the increasing pace of life in urban areas this custom is declining, in villages and in rural areas siesta is one of the ancient customs of Mexico that is still in effect.

10- Religion of Mexico

About 82 percent of Mexicans identify themselves as Catholic, although many have included elements of the pre-religious Maya as part of their faith.

Christian denominations represented include Presbyterians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, Lutherans, Methodists, Baptists, and Anglicans. There are also small Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist communities.

11 – Bullfight

Despite being classified as an illegal sport in many other countries, there are still bulls in Mexico. Inherited from Spain, it is one of the popular traditions of Mexico and attracts a large variety and audience.

Mexico is one of eight states in Mexico where bullfighting is a legal sport. Several Mexican states have animal protection laws but unfortunately for many animal rights activists, these laws do nothing to protect bulls.

Bullfighting has been banned twice in Mexican history but is now completely legal. Even children are allowed to watch the show as long as they are accompanied by a responsible adult.

This was unprecedented (minors were never allowed to watch bullfights in Mexico) but the law has changed in recent years.

Mexico City is home to the world’s largest bullfighting nation: the Monumental, built in 1942, has enough space to accommodate over 40,000 spectators.

The city of Aguascalientes in Mexico is home to two bullfighting rings where multiple fights take place each year. Mexico is famous for its children’s bullfights.

Given that European children under the age of sixteen were not allowed to engage in public human fighting, many moved to Mexico to improve their training so they could return to their home countries and have an advantage over their competitors.

12 – Piñatas

Piñatas are a family performance at many parties. This aspect of Mexican culture has been adopted around the world.

A piñata can be a clay pot, filled with fruit, candy, and confetti, or it can be an elaborate paper, often in the shape of a donkey.

They have a colorful decoration of tinsel, ribbon and paper, with a string attached. The piñatas were hanging and blindfolded children tried to break them to reap the rewards.

13 – Mexican art and literature

Clay pottery, embroidered cotton garments, wool scarves and outerwear with angular designs, baskets and colorful rugs are some of the common elements associated with Mexican folk art.

The country is closely related to the mariachi folk style of music. Originating in the southern part of the state of Jalisco in the nineteenth century, it is a group of musicians – violins, guitars, basses, vihuelas and trumpeters – and suits of silver charros and elaborate hats. “Cockroaches” is a famous mariachi chant.

Two of the most famous artists in Mexico are Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. His paintings include vibrant colors and representations of life in Mexico.

14 – Mexican clothing

Many might not think of Mexico as a place that encourages fashion, but a lot of fashion designers come from Mexico, like Jorge Duque and Julia and Renata.

There is also Fashion Week in Mexico. In cities, fashion in Mexico is influenced by international trends, so that typical Mexican urban dresses are similar to those of Europe and the United States.

In more rural areas, women’s clothing included skirts, sleeveless tunics called huipiles, cloaks known as quechquémitls and scarves called rebozos.

A typical item of traditional men’s clothing is a large layer of blanket called a sarong. Boots are also a wardrobe staple.

Some traditional clothing, now usually worn for celebrations and special occasions, includes hats and charro costumes worn by mariachi bands.

15 – México

The majority of Mexicans today speak Spanish. Currently, Spanish is spoken by 92.7 percent of the population of Mexico.

About 6 percent of the population speaks Spanish and an indigenous language, such as Maya, Nahuatl and other regional languages.

Mexican native words have become common in other languages, including English. For example, chocolate, coyotes, tomatoes and avocados all come from Nahuatl.

16 – Mariachis

Mariachi is considered one of the most traditional musical genres in Mexico. People who play this type of music are known as mariachis or mariachis.

Mariachi consist of a musical ensemble with singers, string and wind instruments. It is common to find these sets encouraging weddings and parties.

In Mexico City, street mariachis or mariachi bars are typical around Plaza Garibaldi.

Also, in 2011, Unesco declared Mariachi a musical genre of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

17- Volador’s Family Ritual

The flying ritual is one of the most spectacular and traditional in Mexico. Its execution goes back to the original religious ritual, in which the Papantla flyer rises vertically on a pole and then launches itself from there into flight.

It is believed to be a ritual for fertility, where each leaflet represents a cardinal point, and its flight indicates the falling of the rain necessary for the food harvest.

Today, this ritual can be seen among the Tuasak Nahuas in northern Puebla.

18- Holy Week

The Catholic tradition that originated in Spain is very strong in Mexico. This can be seen during Holy Week, the time when the death of Jesus Christ is celebrated with ceremonies such as the Procession of Silence and the Viacrucis.

This tradition is celebrated with more force in the colonial cities of Taxco, Oaxaca, Querétaro and San Luis Potosí. Every year thousands of tourists head to these cities to celebrate Holy Week, always between March and April.

19- Quinceañera

The quinceañera celebration is one of the most emblematic of Mexican culture. It consists in organizing a party when a girl will be 15 years old.

This tradition attempts to show the steps a girl takes to enter adulthood.

For the quinceañera celebration, a group of mariachis or musicians enter the honoree’s house early in the morning, dedicating a serenade. Afterwards, friends and family attended a special mass in his honor.

In the evening there is a banquet, toasts are made and the quinceañera dances the waltz. For many parties, choreography and surprises are prepared for the guests.

Tradition dictates that the quinceanera must wear an elegant and striking dress, must wear make-up and wear high heels.

20- The birth of the baby

Mexican culture is rich in superstitions, therefore, such an event as the birth of a baby is surrounded by this popular belief.

In many parts of Mexico, it is common to have different beliefs about the number of days a baby must spend at home before going out for the first time. Almost always, this time includes the first 40 days of a baby’s life.

On the other hand, it is believed that the baby’s first exit should be to church, and that anyone who visits the newborn must receive a gift.

In the case of men, they will receive cigars as gifts, and in the case of women, they will receive chocolates.

Another tradition associated with the birth of a baby is baptism. Through this sacrament newborn babies are welcomed into the Catholic religion. The baptism takes place in the church and is followed by a banquet.

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