Mexico is certainly a diverse country – one everyone should visit in their lifetime. There are several different cultures that have influenced the social fabric of this country, all backed by traditions and customs that form its history. Here we will highlight the Mexican traditions and customs you should try while there.
1. Cinco de Mayo
Surprisingly, this isn’t actually considered a public holiday in Mexico. However, May 5 is definitely a memorable date in the country’s history. Back in 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French forces who invaded (considered the most powerful army at that time) during the Battle of Puebla.
Today, it’s a festive cultural holiday celebrated with food, festivals and drinks. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated extensively here in the United States to show pride for our Mexican-Americans, but has devolved into a drinking holiday marked by Mexican food and margaritas. For the real meaning behind the celebration, go to Mexico around this date. You’ll see it’s much more about the victory of self determination.
2. The New Year
Many of the Mexican New Year traditions are steeped in religion, while others are backed by custom. Still others are simply bizarre but continue to be passed on from generation to generation. Here are some of the ways Mexico celebrates the New Year.
- Spread lentils around their doors to symbolize abundance.
- Place a coin in their shoes or pockets for good financial luck.
- They sweep dirt outside the home to clear out the bad vibes from the year and hope for good ones for the upcoming year.
- Turn the house lights on at night to attract prosperity and success.
- Wear red underwear for love and passion, yellow underwear for happiness and wealth, or white to prevent illness.
- Make a wish list for the New Year, just like we do here with our New Year’s resolutions.
- Decorate the dinner table with their best tablecloths, silverware, flowers, red and gold items, and candles. Blue means peace, white means clarity, orange means intelligence, green means health, yellow means abundance, and red means passion.
- Make a toast with sparkling wine, whereby the bubbles represent happiness.
- Eat 12 grapes at the countdown to the New Year, each one representing a wish.
- Ring a bell at midnight to symbolize the happiness of their home.
- Throw a glass of water out of the home to rid it of tears, worries and negativity.
3. Day of the Dead
This is a two-day long national holiday in Mexico, also known as Día de los Muertos. This holiday honors deceased loved ones. November 1st, also called All Saints Day, honors small children (“angelitos”) in particular who have died. November 2nd, or All Souls Day, honors older family members and friends who has passed.
Many people believe that the Day of the Dead is a part of Halloween. Not so. Rather, it’s a day to remember loved ones with happiness and joy, not sadness or fear. Celebrations are cheerful, with homes decorated with photographs, gifts and offerings of food.
Are you looking to study Spanish and visit or live in Mexico? We can help. Call BRIC Language Systems now to try our innovative language learning approach.