• Nur Deniz Mutlu

Hispanic Cultures: Everything You Need to Know About Mexican Culture

Updated: Mar 1

“I’m Mexican. No, I’m not spicy. Or fiesty. Or exotic. I’m just not bland. Because my culture is too rich. Because my hips give in to the beats of a drum. And my tongue rolls with a passion. Because I come from vibrant colors. And full skirts. And intricate patterns in my gene pool. Warrior and conqueror. Because I have to quiero y te amo. While you’ve gotta stick to I love you. Because I come from women with rifles and food that excites you. And the very hands that harvest this land, hold the very hearts that harvested me.” -J. Arceo Hispanic refers to a person whose cultural origin is based in Spanish-speaking countries such as Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, and so on. These places are associated with vivid colors, warm textures, interesting clothes, energetic dances, and music. Every year, between September 15 and October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place. It is a big celebration to honor their culture and history. There are many appealing aspects of Hispanic cultures. If you are interested, especially in Mexican culture, and willing to learn more about it, you’ve come to the right place! 1. Language In Mexico, there is no official language, but Spanish is the most widely spoken. Across the country, 68 national languages, out of which 63 are native, are recognized and spoken. In 31 countries, Spanish is the official language. Over 400 million people speak Spanish, which makes it the second most spoken language after Chinese. Even though Spanish is spoken by many people all over the world, how people use and speak Spanish varies by country and region. For instance, there is a difference between Spanish used in Spain and Spanish used in Mexico. The use of language may differ in vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. If one day you want to travel Mexico and explore the country with your own eyes, you may need to keep these differences in mind. According to experts, you can gain professional proficiency in Spanish within 24 weeks. Actually, for professional proficiency in any language, two years is not a long time. Indeed, we believe we can make learning Spanish easier for you! Here at ReDefiners World Languages, we offer many Spanish classes and programs for students of all ages who want to enrich their lives by learning a new language. We have a wide variety of class types to fit with your schedule. Along with Spanish, if you come across someone speaking Nahuatl in Mexico, do not be surprised. Here is why: Nahuatl is the most commonly used indigenous language, and approximately 1,376,026 people speak this language, mostly in Veracruz, Puebla, and Hidalgo. It is also possible to hear many other indigenous languages, different dialects, and variations of other languages. 2. Food Food is an important cultural element of Mexico. It carries both religious and philosophical meaning. Mexican cuisine consists of spicy foods, and it is known for the diversity of corn, chili peppers, and beans.


Cuisine in Mexico varies by region. In northern Mexico, people often consume goat meat and beef. In southern Mexico, people prefer poultry products. Also, in the coastal cities of Mexico, fish and sea products are commonly eaten.


Tomatoes, winter pears, pumpkins, rice, and garlic are among the most commonly used ingredients, along with corn, peppers, and beans. Many foreigners are already familiar with several Mexican foods made by these ingredients because they are everywhere. So, if you have not tried any Mexican food before, you can experience these foods in your hometown. I promise you will never regret trying it!


Burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, frijole (beans), guacamole, nachos, salsa, tacos, tamales, tortillas, and quesadillas are among the most famous foods of Mexico. If you can get a chance to try these delicious foods, maybe you want to have a soup with them, because Mexico cuisine offers a wide variety of soups, too! You can even eat cold soups in the summer and hot soups in the winter.


Cheesesteak Quesadilla

Sourced from:

https://natashaskitchen.com/philly-cheesesteak-quesadilla-recipe

3. Religion


There is no official religion in Mexico. In the middle of the 19th century, freedom of religion was allowed, and Mexico became a secular country. Its population is estimated to consist of Catholics (80.8%), Protestants (6%), Evangelists (1.3%), Jehovah’s Witnesses (1.2%), Pentecostals (0.8%), people unaffiliated with any belief (10.6%), and people from other beliefs (5%). It has the world’s second-largest Catholic population, after Brazil.


For Mexicans, Catholicism is not only a religion but more like a cultural heritage. Religious practices are not limited to churches; they are seen in everyday life. Even non-religious Mexicans try to attend Catholic celebrations because Catholicism is settled in the country and seen as a way of life. Yet still, Mexican society is rather respectful to other beliefs.


As an example, whenever Mexicans pass by church or altar, many of them make the “Sign of the Cross” with their hands. Likewise, Catholic sacraments, such as baptism or marriage, mark many of their lives. Religion even influences their language. As in other languages, there are phrases such as Si Dios quiere (God willing) and Dios te bendiga (God bless you).


4. Art


Painting is an inseparable component of the Mexican culture. One can feel the importance of art for the Mexican society as soon as they step into the country. All of the art forms are protected, and Mexicans always praise their artists. Important names such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and José Clemente Orozco are sources of pride for them since they are famous worldwide for their art.


The art history of Mexico is also an important topic to mention. Along with the architecture and sculpture, ancient people painted on ceramics and codices (old books consisting of writings with pictures). They used colors as symbols in those times, such as red for blood or yellow for corn. That’s pretty interesting, isn’t it? Sometimes we can relate the color red with blood, but yellow for corn? I guess corns were so commonly consumed that even in ancient times people included them in their paintings.


Paintings that are painted directly on the wall are called murals. There are two important places in which murals were discovered and preserved very well: Bonampak and Cacatlax archaeological sites. Street art is still substantial in Mexico, and this is what keeps the country sparkling and alive!



Murals discovered at Bonampak

Sourced from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pov_steve/7103817161/in/pool-maya/


5.Traditional Music, Clothes, and Dance Some music may carry a special meaning for us, and we can enjoy listening to them, but for Mexicans, music is even more special! It is a big part of their identity. Mariachi music is the best known traditional genre of Mexico. Indeed, many people claim that this genre is the best representative music of Mexican culture. This music is played at weddings, on women's birthdays, girls' 15th birthday parties (known as quiñceaneras), and on Mother's Day. However, it is possible to encounter this genre at any celebration. Here is a video of Mariachi music:


Traditional clothes and costumes have an important place in Mexican history. Even though these are not used in everyday life, many native people wear them on special days. For instance, when performing mariachi, men wear Charro Suits and Sombreros. There are many other traditional clothing items, such as thehuipil (a blouse for women), the rebozo (a scarf-like shawl), the sarape (a Poncho), and so on. All of these traditional clothes and costumes represent their Spanish and Mayan roots.


Likewise, traditional dances are indispensable cultural elements of Mexico. There are different types of traditional dancings in distinct regions. For example, in Jalisco, known as the birthplace of mariachi, these dances are based on courtship behaviors. However, in Veracruz, the oldest city located on the east of the Gulf of Mexico, these dances carry more flamenco characteristics. The most famous traditional dance in Mexico is Jarabe Tapatio, also known as the Mexican Hat Dance. Seen as a national dance of Mexico, Jarabe Tapatio still maintains its importance. Many Mexican people learn how to dance in their childhood and continue to dance in festivals, celebrations, and birthday parties. Here is a video of Jarabe Tapatio:





6. National Holidays and Festivals Music, parades, costumes, dances, street foods, and joy come together to make the most flamboyant festivals and national holidays in Mexico! Such celebrations are important in Mexican culture, and even the smallest villages celebrate them.

One of the most important days for Mexicans is Mexican Independence Day, which celebrates the country's independence from Spain in 1810. The history behind the Mexican Independence Day is based on the day when a priest named Delores rang the bell of church and made a speech, a battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, on September 16, 1810, which is also known as Cry of Delores (Grito de Delores). The official day of celebration is September 16. However, many people start celebrating on September 15. On the day of celebration, Mexicans enjoy colorful parades, mariachi concerts, traditional foods, and dances; red, white, and green decorations also fill the streets. Even though the concepts of national pride and freedom are abstract, anyone can feel them with their senses on this special day.


Another holiday as famous as Mexican Independence Day is the Day of the Dead (Día De Los Muertos). It is an annual celebration of both life and death on November 1 and 2. Families create offerings (or ofrendas) for the deceased family members. These offerings are believed to encourage departed souls to join in the celebrations. On the day of celebration, many Mexicans put on funky make-up, wear crawly costumes, dance, hold parades, and sing. Day of the Dead originated within the practices of Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people who believe mourning the dead was disrespectful. In 2008, this unique celebration was recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.


A photo from a Day of the Dead Celebration

BONUS – Interesting Facts

  • With over 129 million people, Mexico is the 10th most populous country in the world! It falls behind Russia and precedes Japan by population.

  • Mexico is the 13th largest country by size and the second-largest Spanish-speaking country after Argentina.

  • Contrary to what is commonly known, Mexico’s official name is United Mexican States (Estados Unidades Mexicanos).

  • Jaguars, the largest wildcats in North America, can be found in the southern jungles of Mexico.

  • Chihuahuas, the smallest known dog breed, first originated in the state of Chihuahua. The dogs were named after the state.

  • To praise and appease the sun god, Aztecs sacrificed nearly 1% of their population every year.

  • Mexico ranks fourth in biodiversity. It is home to over 200,000 different species of fauna and flora.

  • There is a massive dependence on tourism in Mexico. It is the 7th most visited country, and it has the 15th highest income from tourism in the world.

  • Caesar Salads were invented in Mexico. The country also introduced many popular foods, such as avocados, tomatoes, and vanilla.

  • Mexico is home to the world’s smallest volcano, called Cuexcomat, and the largest pyramid, known as the Great Pyramid of Cholula (Tlachihualtepetl, meaning made-by-hand mountain).

Now that you know basic facts about Mexican culture, do you find yourself wanting to learn more? Join our Spanish classes and programs! By joining, you not only learn a new language, but you also get exposed to a new culture. For more information, please visit the ReDefiners website or email us at info@redefinerswl.org.

These lines are for my dear grandfather Ilyas Kilicarslan who passed away due to COVID-19 last month. Even if you are not here anymore, you are always in my mind and forever in my heart. I am so proud of being your granddaughter, and I am trying so hard to be worthy of you. I hope you are at peace where you are.

"May the winds of heaven blow softly and whisper in your ear how much we love and miss you."

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