A Guide to Popular Mexican Traditions
Many Mexican traditions contain a terrific balance of cheer and respect. Some of the traditional Mexican holidays and celebrations share a few similar aspects to other holidays all over the world, such as Christmas, however they way in which these are celebrated can be quite different! Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent Mexican traditions and customs.
“Cinco de Mayo” – The Fifth of May
Cinco de Mayo is a holiday which marks the historical event in which the Mexican army triumphed over the French in their attempted invasion of the Mexican territory, Puebla. In Mexico, this holiday is generally observed by the residents of Puebla, but in the United States this holiday is widely celebrated more by those who have Mexican ancestry and wish to display national pride. This is similar to how Irish-Americans celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrations often include indulgences in Mexican food, music, and dancing.
“El Grito” – Mexican Independence Day (Sixteenth of September)
This is the true Mexican Independence Day which is celebrated all over the country. This day marks the historical day in which Mexico won its independence from Spain. Most cities string up lights and other decorations, particularly in the town center where the festivities are held. Food stands containing finger foods, punch, and candy can be found all over the place. Adults and children alike all gather in the town center dressed in traditional Mexican attire or wear clothing in the colors of the Mexican flag. Mariachi bands play and residents shout, whistle, or find other ways to take part of the incredible celebration.
“Dia de los Muertos” – The Day of the Dead
The Day of the Dead is a holiday that takes place on November 2nd. On this holiday residents of Mexico and Mexican Americans pay special attention to the memories of love ones who are no longer alive. During the day, family members and friends visit the graves of the deceased and bring them presents, such as a platter of their favorite foods, marigolds, and skulls made of sugar. A party may be hosted at the family’s residence where a collection of food is served and friends and family gather to share memories and have a good time. Many believe that this is a Mexican version of Halloween, but it is truly a separate holiday and one of the most unique Mexican traditions!
Weddings are a big deal no matter what country one lives in, but the Mexican culture sure does know how to celebrate this special day! The typical wedding food includes tortilla dishes made of chicken or beef, beans, rice, and a sweet drink called sangria. A special wedding cookie will also be enjoyed. Well-dressed musicians may play during what many consider to be a reception. A mariachi band may also be present. As far as the actual ceremony goes, this typically stays within the bounds of the Catholic religion, as this is the primary religion in Mexico. The flower girl and ring bearer are often dressed in the same style of clothing as the bride and groom. An interesting tradition in a Mexican wedding is the presentation of thirteen gold coins. This custom requires the groom to present his bride with thirteen gold coins. This is an old tradition that dates back to Spanish origin and is a symbol of the groom entrusting all of his possessions to his bride. When the bride takes the coins, she is accepting the faith and trust that her groom has offered her.
“La Navidad” – Christmas
As Christians, Christmas is just as important to the Mexican culture as it is in other areas of the world. The poinsettia plant plays an important role in many Christmastime celebrations in Mexico. Posadas are another important part of Christmas for Mexicans. Posadas are held on December 16 through 24, and during this time the people in each neighborhood enact Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging through an enactment. Three houses participate each night from the 16th to the 24th and the neighborhood residents go to each house asking for lodging through a song. The first two houses refuse, and the third house will be the one which was scheduled to hold the posada that night. The residents are invited into the house where they kneel around the nativity scene and recite prayers and sing Christmas songs.