Fun Mexican Traditions You Can Adopt
Fun Mexican Traditions You Can Adopt
What’s more fun than integrating new traditions into your life? Better yet, what’s better than practicing a tradition that’s existed for centuries, gaining new experience and knowledge along the way?
Mexican culture is a hotbed of tradition dating back millenia. Everything from food, to holidays (both familiar and unfamiliar), and jewelry, are a burst of excitement and color.
In this month’s post, we’ll take a look at some of our favorite Mexican traditions that you can adopt into your own life.
Holidays in Mexico
Cinco De Mayo
While many in the United States think of Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, as Mexican Independence day, that’s not the case. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over the French Empire in 1862. It’s also taken on a significance in the United States as a day to celebrate Mexican-American culture.
In Mexico, the largest celebration for the holiday is in Puebla, where the battle over the French took place. There you can find:
- A large reenactment of the French-Mexican battle
- A parade with many floats and dancing and singing
- Pinatas filled with candy and other treats
- Large meals including Puebla’s specialty, Mole Poblano and Chicken Tinga
Dia de los Muertos
One of the largest celebrations in all of Mexico is Dia de los Muertos, or the “day of the dead.” A tradition dating back thousands of years and likely influenced by old Aztec festivals, the day is intended as a celebration of ancestors and departed loved ones.
Generally celebrated over three days (October 31st-November 2nd), Dia de los Muertos traditions include:
- Families adorning their passed family member’s graves with ofrendas, or elaborate altars containing offerings for departed loved ones.
- The displaying of calacas, which are skeleton figures based on Aztec imagery
- Calaveras, or satirical poems that act as an epitaph of sorts for someone who is still alive.
Above all else, Dia de los Muertos is a happy celebration meant to celebrate your ancestors life in a positive way. This is a fun day in Mexico, and is centered on not celebrating the sad parts of death, but the beauty of life and the positive influence of those who lived.
Food & Drink
Food is a major part of the Mexican way of life. Unlike in the United States, the biggest meal of the day is generally eaten in the middle of the day during a long work break. Often workers will come home to their families for the meal, and then take a short rest afterwards to digest. Everyone will then go back to work and finish their day, eating a light dinner after work or school once the work day is finished.
Each region has their own unique dishes and customs, but there are a few basic staples that are uniform throughout the country.
While wheat and rice were introduced to the region long ago, the basis of the Mexican diet is still centered around what it has been for millenia: Corn, which is known locally as maize. Corn is included in most of the county’s most popular dishes, including tacos, pozole, and tamales.
Corn is most commonly dried and ground into a dough called masa, which is what’s used to make tortillas.
Mexican food is known throughout the world for being spicy, and you can thank the vibrant chili pepper for the heat! These peppers have been central to the cuisine of the area for thousands of years, and is part of the Mexican identity.
While heat is central to the chili peppers appeal, it’s also full of unique and nuanced flavors. Commonly the peppers will be used to make hot sauce (locally referred to simply as “salsa”), and put on almost all dishes.
For any sauce a pepper is included in, it will almost always be the primary flavor and will define the sauce. Some common chili peppers found in Mexican cuisine include:
- Jalapeno pepper
- Poblano pepper
- Serrano pepper
- Birds eye chili pepper
Go to any market in Mexico and you’ll find a plethora of beans, or frijoles, of different shapes and sizes. Beans are served refried, stewed, or with rice. In almost any Mexican kitchen you’ll find a big pot of beans simmering to be served with all meals, even breakfast!
The most common beans you’ll find in Mexican cuisine are pinto beans and black beans.
While veggies, legumes, and corn are central in Mexico’s cuisine, meat is a huge part of Mexican cuisine. While beef is eaten, pork and chicken are the main meat products consumed.
New Years Celebration
While most countries celebrate the beginning of the new calendar year in some capacity, in Mexico it goes even further. Most activities involve setting yourself up for a successful new year through performing rituals throughout the night.
Some of these rituals include:
- Spreading or eating lentils to symbolize abundance
- A toast with sparkling wine at dinner to symbolize happiness for the whole year
- Cleaning your home to remove all that was negative from the previous year
- Throwing a glass of water out of your home to to expel tears and negativity from your life and home
- Turning all the lights in your home to attract success
- Placing a coin in your pocket or shoe to attract prosperity
A New Years Eve meal is served, with all in attendance generally dressing in new (often white) clothing to symbolize the start of a new year. The table at dinner is often decorated with a colorful tablecloth, nice silverware, and flowers, with candles always burning in meaningful colors. Some different colors represent:
- Blue = Peace
- White = Clarity
- Green = Heath
- Yellow = Abundance
- Red = Passion
- Orange = Intelligence
Right before midnight it is customary to eat 12 grapes during the countdown to midnight. Once the clock strikes midnight, it’s customary to ring a bell loudly. This symbolizes your home’s happiness for the upcoming year.
Mexican Wedding Traditions
Godparents (or los padrinos) play an important role in Mexican weddings and are considered benefactors of the newly weds, helping them in any way they can.
Traditionally, godparents are sponsors for specific aspects of the wedding, such as:
- Brides dress
Godparents have historically given a gift of a bible and rosary to the couple as a wedding present.
Gold Coin Tradition
One of the most important wedding customs in Mexico, the gold coin tradition is performed by the groom to represent his trust of her with his finances. The practice is derived from Roman times, with the 13 coins representing Jesus Christ and the 12 Apostles.
The practice goes as follows:
- The groom presents the 13 coins in an ornate box to the priest, who blesses the coins
- The groom then hands them to the best man, who holds them through the ceremony
- At the end of the ceremony, the groom hands them to the bride, endowing his finances to her.
Mexican Wedding Dress
Much like weddings across the world, Mexican weddings are formal affairs. Traditionally woman wear mantilla veils with a bolero jacket and traditional Mexican jewelry, with men wearing an outfit resembling that of a matador.
Jewelry is an extremely important part of Mexican culture, with gem stones and designs symbolizing different aspects of the couple’s life together.
Mexican Silver Jewelry
Not only is jewelry an important part of Mexican wedding culture, but Mexican culture in general. Silver has been mined and turned into jewelry in Mexico for centuries. It’s a large part of what makes Mexico, Mexico. Many different historical and cultural traditions have shaped Mexican jewelry.
Known for its deep-rooted history of Mexican Silver, Taxco, Mexico is the cultural center for silver jewelry in Mexico. With its 925 silver, unique designs, and cultural traditions, Mexican silver is not just a piece of jewelry, it’s at the heart of Mexican culture.
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