The Maya (Maya Yucateeks: maaya'ob, Spanish: mayas) are a people of southern Mexico and northern Central America. The term is used as an umbrella term for 29 indigenous people from the same region, the same cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Today there are about 8 to 9 million Mayas, the vast majority living in Guatemala and southern Mexico (Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Campeche, Chiapas and Tabasco), with smaller communities in Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. In the United States and northern Mexico live relatively large emigrant communities.Related to:
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DAYS OF THE DEAD
It is popular belief in Mexico that the dead have divine permission to visit friends and relatives on earth. once a year during the days of the dead the living offer food, candles and flowers to their loved ones that have died. This occasion is not morbid but a celebration of the passed ones lives. It is thought that the souls of children visit on November 1st and adults on November 2nd. Many shops sell skeletons dressed in clothes and performing everyday activities.
The Mayan people are indigenous to parts of Mexico and Central America. They can be traced back as far as 2600 BC. The Mayans still live and work in parts of Mexico especially around Chichen Itsa, which was once a commercial, religious and military centre. The Mayans living around Chichen itsa sell local crafts on stalls within the ancient site, many wearing traditional dress.
1. people go in the ocean with clothes on, and sit or lay in the sand as the water laps up over them.
2. vendors and musicians often come onto local and regional buses to make money. some of the treats they sell are plantanes, juice sold in plastic bags, and a type of fried pig skin with a hot sauce.
3. men (mostly men) will lift their shirts up over their bellies and stand on the street corner, for no apparent reason.
4. the women don´t generally drink outdoors, but in closed quarters, like a restaurant or home.
5. people throw their trash on the ground. PLEASE DON´T DO IT! mexico´s rivers and oceans are very polluted because of this.
6. you will always be approached by vendors on the beach, especially in tourist destinations. some of these vendors are children and old women. it breaks my heart.
7- some street food includes juices topped with peanuts, corn with hot salsa served in a cup, hot dogs wrapped in bacon, fruit, tacos, horchata, pastries and juices served in plastic bags.
8. the "clean" standard is different than in the u.s.
9. stray animals are abundant.
Symbol of the nation
The Aztecs believed that the place where the gods were born , the very centre of the earth, would be revealed to them by the sighting of an eagle perched on a cactus and with a snake in its beak. Where the eagle was sighted became the centre of their civilization - their capital city, Tenochtitlan - now the the sprawling megalopolis of Mexico City.
The snake-bearing eagle has become the country's coat of arms and takes pride of place as the centrepiece of the nation's flag whilst the colours are symbolic of hope (green), unity (white) and the blood of the heroes of the revolution (red).
Dance of the Viejecitos
We got lucky and managed to see a performance of the Viejecitos (Little Old Men). This is a dance said to have been invented by the local Purepecha during the early colonial period to mock the Spanish colonists.
The dancers were boys from about 6-12 years old, and they wore pink wrinkly masks, plus had on hard-soled wooden sandals, which they use to make a lot of noise stumbling around, as the names suggests, like clumsy old men.
You can usually see performances of the Viejecitos at the major hotels, and on weekends at the Casa de los Once Patios, around noon.
Rebozos semed part of life in the Mexican countryside and it seemed most females wore one. They use it for warmth, to accessorize, and even to carry their babies on their backs as well. You can get rebozos ranging from very expensive at some of the craft shops, to inexpensive at the local markets.
I bought mine at the local markets, I guess their version of the fake pashmina. They are much better quality and more distinctive than fake pashminas and just as cheap; plus they're great souveniers to buy for people back home.
Carry Small Bills
When carrying pesos, make sure you have plenty of small bills. It seems that no one has change or if any, very little. It doesn't make sense, as they issue large bills, so someone must use them! And if everyone has small bills, someone must have change ... if I think about it too much, it drives me crazy, so trust me, carry lots of small bills and change.
Day of the Dead (El Dia De los Muertos)
Although it looks like Halloween, it is not Halloween!
During the Dia de los Muertos, which occurs every year on November 1 and 2, many Mexican families honor their ancestors and their dead with home altars and/or by visiting and spending time in the cementerio where their loved ones are buried. This was originally thought as to greet the spirits as they return to the home for 24 hours each year.
There are different traditions within the large one itself so the way it is celebrated might change from region to region or even from family to family . But basically this day is very important to Mexicans and most people will take the 2 days to visit the graves of their loved ones. The more rural the place is is the more traditional the celebration is.Related to:
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Mexico's modern-day Zapatista movement had its roots in the southern state of Chiapas Although they are mostly associated with Chiapas, the Zapatistas aim is to represent " the dispossessed millions" of the whole country against both the one-party system of the government and wealthy international interests who they see as having oppressed the the indigenous people for the last 500 years and virtually all the country's population for the last 70 years.
Arguing that the land should belong to those who work it (and indigenous Mexicans own virtually no land at all) their aims include land reform, an end to illiteracy, dignity in the workplace and respect for indigenous peoples and cultures as well as the recognition and implimentation of many basic rights for all the population that currently, and sadly, are available to relatively few.
In January this year (2006), the Zapatistas began a tour of all 31 states in Mexico - a six month long journey labelled La Otra Campana - The Other Campaign - the end of which will coincide with their arrival in Mexico City in time for the elections in June.
The demostration we saw in Oaxaca was restrained and dignified - a silent protest that was all the more telling for the place in which it was staged - the ancient city of Monte Alban.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
La fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe.....
Mexico, as every very catholic country, has its own Virgin- La Virgen de Guadalupe. Her day is celebrated the 12th of Decembr because on that day the Virgin appeared to an indian man, Juan Diego, telling him to build a church, which is now in el Cerro del Tepeyac. On this day kids dress like the indian people of the times of Juan Diego, and they go with their parents to churches where special masses are celebrated and where they have their photos taken with the image of the Virgin.
Mexicans in general tend to be very friendly, outgoing, and love to talk.
Whernever they go they can easily make small talk with the person next to them, be it at the market, at the doctors office, or at the bus stop.
They love to joke about everything, even death. A sad event can be made fun of just to keep the mood right. Mexicans also use alot of hand movements to speak or get a point or feeling across. To show annoyance at something for example, the person would flick their hand as if shooing something away and at the same time make a quick tssk sound.
They communicate more easily with their hands, facial expressions and touching.
An american usually likes a good space between himself and the person he speaks with. With a mexican its different, it normal to stand very close to who they speak with, often invading what an american would consider personal space.
Mexican women who are chit chating e.g gossiping often touch each others hand and shoulders when the juicy parts come up. It is not easy to describe what I mean, but its a light tapping to get the others attention or to signal that an interesting or surprising part is coming up.
A funny one for me is an expression that is said often when something surprising is said.
For example say a woman is telling her friend something then when she gets to the good part , the other will be shocked and say loudly 'callate la boca!' (shut your mouth) but it means something like ' WOW, I can't believe it!"
Cantinflas ( the Charlie Chaplin of Mexico) !
I am not kidding. Supposedly Charlie Chaplin once called Cantinflas 'the funniest man in the world' and he sure was very funny and endearing.
Quote: " According to a legend that he agrees with, a young Mario Moreno (Cantinflas), overwhelmed by stage fright, once, in the Ofelia carpa, forgets his original monologue. He begins to say what comes to mind in a complete emancipation of phrases and words, and what comes to mind is an incoherent brilliance. His assistants recite his attack on syntax, and Mario becomes aware of it: destiny has placed in his hands the distinctive characteristic, the style that is manipulation of chaos. Weeks later, the name that will mark the invention is invented. Someone, taken in by the nonsense, screams: "Cuanto inflas!" [C' ntinflas] (You're annoying!) or "En la cantina inflas!" (You become egotistical in the barroom). The contraction catches on and becomes proof of the baptism that the character needs."[
Cantinflas is loved and admired in Mexico and all over the Spanish speaking world. His form of humor is a hilarious word play of the Spanish language that made him famous. It was nonsense but touching and endearing nonsense. He made Mexico laugh like no other and for this he is loved and remembered.
Mexican Food, salsa, and chilies
Contrary to popular belief, not all Mexican food is spicy and hot. but Mexicans can make it hot with salsa which consists of chilis boiled, crushed and then mixed with a water to a thick or watery consistency depending on tastes.
You will find some sort of salsa concoction in most Mexican households. It is eaten with everything from eggs to chicken to tacos to enchiladas. (sprinkled on top) or used as a dip for tostadas. (you can kind of compare its use with hummus used in middle eastern and arab countries, its a dip for them)
Many Mexicans do not consider a meal a real meal without salsa of some kind. Or jalapenos. I count myself in here. Who cares if your eyes water and if your tongue stings, what matters is the taste this salsa adds to your delicious food! And what a variety of foods there are!!
The very basic and famous staple food of Mexico is beans and tortillas (that can can be maiz or harina) but other typical mexican dishes are: tamales, enchiladas, mole, chiles rellenos, tostadas.
If you are a visitor to Mexico do not fear, you can certainly ask for food without any chilie at all. Tacos, Quesadillas, Tamales, and Tortas for example are mild.
Note: Just in case some dont know.... there are of course many types of chilies and usually the bigger the chili the less hot it is. The smallest chili is usually the hotter it is.
Mariachi Music is romantic , poetic and often melancholic.
This has become the traditonal kind of Mexican music. Every Mexican whether or not he is a fan of it can sing along with some of the good old ones.
It often is played in all kinds of events; mothers day, birthdays, weddings, funerals.
This is the music of serenades, the one where the Mexican man might let his guard down and let out his soul and cry (sing) over love.
The King of Rancheras always accompanied by a mariachi band is definetely Vicente Fernandez.
Here is a part of one of his famous songs:
Si nuestro amor se acaba, si nuestro amor termina
ya no me queda nada para vivir la vida.
Si ya olvidaste todo, tambien tus juramentos
y llenaste de lodo mi mundo de recuerdos
Nomas por tu soberbia no das explicaciones
encima me condenas sin escuchar razones.
Si terminar conmigo ya lo venias pensando
dejame estar contigo, aunque no este a tu lado
Si me dejas, no me olvides por favor, nunca me olvides
tu sabes cuanto te quiero, que desde siempre te quise.
Translation: (lost in translation lol)
If our love is ending, if it is gone
there is nothing more to live for in this life
If you have forgotten everything, all your promises
and filled with sorrow all my memories
Because of pride you leave without explanations
and condemn me without reasons
if you already planned the end of our love
then let me be with you even if not by your side
if you leave me, please do not forget me, do not forget me
You knew how much I loved you, how much I always did.
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