Mexico is a country with a rich culture and heritage. Here are 5 interesting cultural facts about Mexico:
1. Family is Very Important
In Mexican culture, family is the center of social life. Families tend to be large and extended, with multiple generations living together under one roof. Children are taught from a young age to respect their elders. Grandparents often play a significant role in raising children while parents work. Family celebrations and traditions are highly valued.
On a typical Sunday, many Mexican families attend mass together and share a large family meal. Holidays and birthdays are celebrated together with lots of food, music, and dancing. Occasions like weddings, baptisms, and funerals bring the extended family together.
Mexican families also tend to be close-knit and supportive. There is a strong sense of responsibility to the family group. If a relative falls on hard times, the family will rally to support them as much as possible. Family provides a crucial social safety net.
The Importance of Godparents
Godparents (known as padrinos) play a unique cultural role in Mexico. When a child is born, the parents choose close friends or relatives to serve as godparents (one godfather and one godmother). This creates a lifelong bond, similar to that of an aunt/uncle and a niece/nephew.
Godparents act as mentors and advisors as the child grows up. They also take on the responsibility to care for the child if something should happen to the parents. Godparents are expected to attend important events like birthdays, baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
Being chosen as a godparent is an honor. It signifies the parents’ complete trust in someone to nurture their child spiritually and materially. Godparents vow to be involved in the child’s life and support them unconditionally. This tradition strengthens family bonds across multiple generations.
2. Religion is Prominent
The predominant religion in Mexico is Roman Catholicism, which was brought by Spanish colonizers in the 16th century. Today, about 82% of Mexicans identify as Catholic. Catholic roots run deep in Mexican culture and day-to-day life.
Many homes and businesses display crucifixes, statues of saints, and other Catholic symbols. Important holidays like Christmas, Easter, All Saint’s Day, and Our Lady of Guadalupe are celebrated elaborately. Most cities have central plazas with Catholic cathedrals or churches.
Families teach children religious rituals like crossing themselves, kneeling to pray, and reciting common prayers. Major life milestones are marked with Catholic sacraments – baptism, first communion, confirmation, marriage, and last rites at death.
While church attendance has declined somewhat in recent decades, Catholicism still deeply shapes the national psyche. Issues like abortion and gay marriage remain controversial religious matters. However, the influence of Catholicism varies by region. Some indigenous communities integrate both Catholic and native spiritual practices.
Popular Religious Holidays and Traditions
Here are some of the most popular religious holidays in Mexico:
- Las Posadas – Candlelight processions reenacting Mary and Joseph seeking lodging.
- Día de los Muertos – Prayer and remembrance for deceased relatives, with food offerings and decorated skulls.
- Holy Week – Elaborate Easter rituals like reenactments, special masses, floats, passion plays.
- Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe – Celebration of the patron saint of Mexico, with processions and dancing.
- Día de los Santos Inocentes – Playful holiday commemorating the children killed by King Herod.
These holidays incorporate indigenous and European traditions. They allow Mexicans to maintain their Catholic identity while also celebrating local culture.
3. Strong Sense of National Pride
Mexicans have a strong sense of national pride and identity. They take great pride in Mexican history, culture, traditions, cuisine, and way of life. Several touchstones of Mexican pride include:
- Indigenous civilizations like the Aztecs and Mayans
- Heroes of the Mexican Revolution in early 20th century
- Traditional music styles like mariachi, ranchera, banda
- Traditional dance styles like ballet folklorico
- Delicious national dishes like mole, tacos, tamales
- Celebrations like Día de la Independencia (Independence Day) on September 16
- Soccer, where the Mexican national team is wildly popular
This strong national identity is seen even among Mexicans who emigrate to other countries. They work hard to maintain their cultural roots and teach new generations about their heritage. They take pride in being Mexican and never forget their homeland.
Expressions of National Culture
Mexicans outwardly express national pride in various ways:
- Displaying the green, white, and red Mexican flag, especially on holidays
- Playing and singing famous ranchera or mariachi songs
- Eating traditional Mexican food like tortillas, beans, rice, salsa
- Using Spanish phrases and exclamations that originate from Mexico
- Celebrating Mexican holidays even when living abroad
- Following Mexican pop culture like telenovelas, music, and movies
- Wearing Mexican clothing brands and sports jerseys
These cultural touchstones bind Mexicans together despite regional differences. They maintain a sense of unity and pride.
4. Vibrant Arts & Handicrafts
Mexico has a vibrant artistic culture across many mediums, including:
Many famous painters like Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and Frida Kahlo used art to explore Mexican identity and indigenous themes. Their murals and paintings captured Mexican culture and history.
Handicrafts also represent a vital art form. Indigenous communities across Mexico have specialized in unique handicrafts for generations. These traditional handicrafts include:
- Pottery from Oaxaca and Puebla
- Silverwork from Taxco
- Woven textiles from Chiapas
- Serapes and weavings from Oaxaca
- Amber and jade work from Chiapas
- Ironwork from Oaxaca
- Lacquerware from Michoacán
Many artisans still craft these items using time-honored techniques and designs. This handicraft heritage remains an important part of local economies and culture.
Influence of Art & Handicrafts
Mexican art and handicrafts reveal the country’s diverse indigenous roots. Each region uses distinct colors, materials, styles, and techniques. These creative expressions connect modern Mexicans to ancient civilizations.
Artisans are proud to maintain ancestral handicraft methods. Their work helps educate others about Mexico’s rich cultural complexity and history.
Fine art and handicrafts also represent an important creative industry in Mexico. Galleries across Mexico sell vibrant folk art to tourists and collectors. Events like craft markets and museum shows allow artisans to showcase their talent.
5. Importance of Etiquette & Manners
Politeness and etiquette are highly valued in Mexican culture. Children are taught from a young age about good manners, especially when interacting with adults and strangers. Using proper etiquette helps demonstrate respect.
Some key etiquette tips in Mexico include:
- Greet people formally. Use courtesy titles and last names until you are invited to use first names.
- Shake hands upon meeting. Practice the slightly loose two-handed handshake.
- Make frequent eye contact to show interest.
- Speak in a soft voice. Loud volume is considered impolite.
- Use formal Spanish expressions like “con permiso” (excuse me) and “gracias” (thank you).
- Allow elders to enter and exit first.
- Dress modestly and neatly when invited to someone’s home.
- Bring a small gift like flowers or candy when invited to a home.
- Offer help or food to guests in your home.
- Wait to start eating until the oldest person begins.
Proper etiquette shows respect, kindness, and morals. It makes social interactions smoother. Mexicans notice when people take time to demonstrate good manners.
Regional Etiquette Variations
Etiquette rules can vary somewhat between regions. For example:
- Northern states like Chihuahua have influences from the U.S. and cowboy culture.
- Coastal regions like Veracruz have a more Caribbean laidback feel.
- Mexico City residents tend to be more fast-paced than other regions.
- Some indigenous communities have more casual social rules.
It’s helpful for visitors to research regional expectations. But Mexicans appreciate when foreigners make an effort with etiquette. They will kindly overlook minor slips.
With patience and respect, travelers in Mexico can adapt to local manners. This allows for a warm, welcoming cultural exchange.
While Mexico contains incredible diversity across its regions, some common cultural threads unite Mexicans. Family bonds, Catholic faith, national pride, artistic expression, and etiquette provide insights into the Mexican identity.
Visitors to Mexico should seek to understand these cultural hallmarks. Observing them firsthand helps enrich travelers’ experiences and appreciation for this dynamic country.
With an open and sensitive approach, outsiders can gain Mexican friends’ trust. This opens doors to discover a welcoming yet complex culture.