Local traditions and culture in Mexico

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Mexico

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    Cenotes in Yucatan

    by nepalgoods Written Feb 26, 2004

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    The Mayans consider these 'sinkholes' sacred and gifted by the gods. Their name for them is dzonot. To the Spanish ear, this word was registered as cenote. Many ancient ceramic and precious stone pieces have been found in cenotes, suggesting that ceremonial offerings were made to them. It is common to find skeletal remains of animals and humans in the water-filled underground cave systems of the area. Some are found great distances away from cenote openings, hinting of the subterranean world that existed before the passageways flooded as the sea settled near its present level some 16,000 years ago.

    Chichen Itza Sacred Well
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    The nation's soul

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 1, 2006

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    The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is held dear in the heart of all of Catholic America, but it is especially important and revered in Mexico itself. The story of how the Virgin appeared to a poor Indian boy is known and loved by all devout Mexicans and they have come in their millions in the 470 years since then to see the cloak, miraculously imprinted with the Virgin's image, that confims the miracle, and to pray at the shrine - many of them making the last part of their journey on their knees, a laborious progression around and across the vast courtyard in front of the basilca that is painful to watch, let alone perform.

    When the original church, begun in 1521 and constantly added to and aggrandised over the succeeding centuries, became both too small and too unsafe (subsidence is part of the problem, as it is at the Metropolitan Cathedral) to be used so hard, the precious image was moved to a striking new church that can accommodate 10,000. Juan Diego's cloak is positioned high on a wall where it can be seen from all points of the basilica. For a closer look, you must join the queue on a moving walkway that carries a constant stream of people along in a never-ending procession of the faithful and the curious.

    The Basilica is thought to be second only to St Peter's in Rome for its importance as a Catholic place of pilgrimage. It is undoubtedly the most visited shrine in all the Americas.

    leyle

    Revered image The old basilica... ...and the new (Photo: G&A Delange)
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    Day of the Dead (El Dia De los Muertos)

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated Nov 29, 2006

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    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.

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    Day of the Dead... continued...

    by TheWanderingCamel Updated May 1, 2006

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    A lot of people used to belive that the spirit of the dead person would come back during the 2 days of the Day of the Dead and because of this the family might bring food for them to the graveyard.

    There are special goods that are made during this time, such as sweet candies in the shape of a skull and a bread called pan de muerto - 'bread of the dead'.

    Families come to the cemetery bringing flowers and beautiful decorations . There they clean up the grave of their family members. Afterwards they usually sit for a bit to talk of the old times and share a few laughs.

    The main main road leading into the cemetery is almost usually always closed on this time. The street will be packed with people like a carnival. They set up food stalls with all sorts of antojitos - tacos, sandwiches, Mexican corn on the cobs (yum), raspas, churros, candies, aguas frescas. Vendors also sell fresh flowers and other sell other hand made decorations for people to buy as they go in.

    Street kids or very poor children will be waiting around the entrance to see if you want them to help you clean the grave for a few coins. Musicians also come and wait for anyone who wants them to play some sad traditional songs for their loved ones.

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    Calaveras and El Dia de los Muertos

    by lamentforicarus Written Apr 28, 2004

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    Calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) are found in markets throughout Mexico during the Day of the Dead. The skull is usually a sugar cast decorated with colorful frosting and foil. The calavera is usually adorned with the name of a living child on its forehead, and is given to young boys and girls as a way of creating a comfortable awareness of death as an inevitable part of life.

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    Folk Art and Toys of El Dia de los Muertos

    by lamentforicarus Updated May 9, 2004

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    Skeleton figures are common toys among young children during El Dia de los Muertos. Again, these toys are made to develop a child's understanding of death not as a morbid end to life, but as a naturally occuring transcendence from one world to the next. These toys have evolved into folk artwork found everywhere throughout Mexico. Scenes of skeletons acting out everyday "life" (such as singing, buying foods at a market, driving a bus, even playing football or baseball) illustrate the Mexican approach to death.

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    The Mayan houses

    by micas_pt Written Nov 11, 2003

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    Every family has its own "house" in the community. Their "house" is made of wood and some dried leafs and has one single room, were they cook, eat and sleep. Mayan people are not ambitious so they build their houses just the exact size they need at the moment (1 couple). And as children are born and the room gets sparse, then they build another house, adjusted to that new family size.

    Mayan people sleep in nets hanging from the ceiling in the one roomed housed. Their "tables" are very very low and as you can imagine all their household utensils are manufactured by themselves (from nature materials).

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    The Mayan tree legend

    by micas_pt Written Nov 11, 2003

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    There is a legend that says why the Chechem and Chaka trees always grow side by side (you won't find them separate from each other, that's true i saw!!).

    Chechem was an evil Mayan prince who was turned into a tree by the Gods. As he was bad he turned the sap of the tree into poison. Chaca was his good-hearted brother and turned himself into a tree. The sap of the Chaca tree has healing powers. That's why you will always find them side-by-side in jungle.

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    Mariachis

    by micas_pt Written Nov 12, 2003

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    Mariachi singers and players perform typical Mexican folk music and you can find them in inumerous places, specially if visiting touristy spots; it is also very often to find them in restaurants singing for customers or even in the streets and squares through Mexico. They are often tipped, so it's a way of living for many of them, …

    Mariachi developed in the 19th century in the state of Jalisco and throughout the Central Mexico. They dress in a typical way with smart clothes and big distinctive hats.

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    Danza del Volador

    by micas_pt Written Nov 12, 2003

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    In some touristy spots such as Tulum you will be able to assist a curious performance: the Danza del Volador (Flying Men Dance). This dance dates back to AD500 and is a fertility ceremony.

    Five men dressed in traditional costume climb to the top of that pole. One of them takes the middle position and plays a flute and beats on a drum. The other four fasten a rope around their wastes and take their places on the square wooden framework. As the "middle position" man starts to play the flute and the drum, the other four jump (all at the same time!!). The player makes this central piece jump and the four flying men wheel around the central pole as the ropes unwrap and slowly they reach the ground.

    Afterwards the player slides down the pole and they all approach the tourist to receive tips. What i found awesome was that they were not young at all, ...

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    Colourful Mayan dresses

    by micas_pt Written Nov 13, 2003

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    For several times I had the opportunity of watching women dressed in traditional Mayan costume. It's a large dress, made of plain cotton fabric (I saw white fabric) and then it has colourful embroidery at the bottom of the dress and neck. The embroideries I saw were all like big colourful flowers.

    I think that they no longer wear those dresses in their daily life, but they show them when tourists are around. This photo was taken on a little "farm" where typical animals from jungle were shown, as well as some rituals they performed periodically. Curiously some young men were wearing mobile phones, a "rather traditional" Mayan gadget, … :-)

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    Iguanas

    by micas_pt Written Nov 13, 2003

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    I think iguanas are local customs! They were everywhere i went, … beach, hotel gardens, ruins, … everywhere!! They are lazy, quiet animals, that didn't seem to be afraid of humans. But i guess they were bored of being photographed so many times; poor them, tourists do behave like paparazzi, … and even try to feed them!

    Only once did iguanas impress me and that was when i saw 2 of them fighting, … it sure looked quiet serious and somewhat frightening how those apparently quiet animals became so violent to each other.

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    Spicy and tasty food

    by micas_pt Written Nov 14, 2003

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    Mexican food is tasty and varied. Some plates are spicy, even considered "hot", so those who enjoy this kind of food should be happy. But for everyone else who doesn't enjoy spicy there's also plenty of choice, so don't worry.

    Seafood is very good in Mexico and my favourite seafood plate was one made with shrimp in a sweet and sour sauce with chilli and corn. Quiet tasty!! Corn and chili are commonly used in composition of food giving a different (but tasty) flavour to meat or fish. I've also had quiet good fresh fish, as well as grilled meat.

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    Zempasuchiles and El Dia de los Muertos

    by lamentforicarus Written Apr 28, 2004

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    The zempasuchile (marigold) is the Aztec flower of the dead. In the days leading up to El Dia de los Muertos, markets burst with these bright gold and purple flowers. It is believed that the pungent smell of the zempasuchile attracts the souls of the dead, and many families place its petals around the grave or the house of a deceased relative to guide the spirit home.

    Man placing petals on a grave

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    Friendly People

    by shdw100 Written Oct 8, 2003

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    co has some of the friendliest and most helpful people you will ever meet. They will try to help you in any way possible, although be careful because sometimes in order not to feel like they don't want to help you, they will tell you something wrong rather than say they don't know, especially if you are asking for directions.

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