Just like much of the rest of the world, Mexico has evolved considerably over the past few decades. Although the majority of the people reside in urban areas, the smaller rural communities are vital to the makeup of the country’s cumulative and dynamic society. With a population of over 130 million, it is ranked as the 14th largest country in the world.
The population of Mexico is comprised of 60% mestizo, which is a mix between Amerindian and Spanish, 30% Amerindian or mostly Amerindian and 9% Caucasian. The Amerindians speak 62 indigenous languages. The combination has created a unique history and culture that is worth learning about. Here are eight interesting facts related to Mexican culture that demonstrates how complex yet fascinating the country is.
8 Interesting Facts About the Mexican Culture
1. Mexican Culture and Facts About Food
If you enjoy food with a little, or a lot of, kick to it, then Mexican cuisine will tantalize your pallet. Of course, as with any culture, there are staples that meals are built around. For working class citizens, for instance, chili peppers, rice, beans, tomatoes, and corn or wheat tortillas are found at almost every meal. The protein is usually chorizo, which is a form of pork sausage, and for dessert, they often have empanadas, which are pastry shells filled with sweet treats.
The diets of the middle to upper-class citizenry, on the other hand, is reminiscent of what would be found in the U.S. and Europe. Not only are the types of food similar, but the way they’re prepared reflects the country of origin as well. Additionally, for all people, the drink of choice is tequila. The beverage is made from agave cactus and/or soda pop which is a well-developed industry in the region.
2. Mexican Culture and Facts About Family Life
In Mexico, family always comes first and is the most important institution in the country. It is because of Mexican family traditions that familial groups are so successful. The men in the family are the providers as well as the protectors, and the women are in charge of managing the home.
The importance of family life in Mexico is the one thing that didn’t change, like other aspects of Mexican culture, due to modern influences. One of the most important events in Mexican culture is the family reunion. They are usually held around religious and national holidays and reinforce the fact that the family remains the building block of Mexican society.
3. Mexican Culture and Facts about the People
Mexican people have an optimism that defies all logic, despite the problems, hardships, and challenges the country has faced, and what its people have endured over the course of its rich history. As a result, Mexicans continue to live dynamic lives that are rich in traditions and culture.
The Mexican people are often described as honorable, passionate, hardworking, stubborn, emotional, proud, direct and easy-going. They love celebrations, spending time with family and friends, symbols of nationalism, good food and drinks, dancing, singing, sports, and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Also, according to comedian George Lopez, “Mexican people never say they’re sorry.”
4. Mexican Culture and Facts about Traditions
The traditions of Mexico permeate every facet of the peoples’ lives. Many were established hundreds and, sometimes, thousands of years ago yet endure today. When Mexicans migrate to other countries they continue to follow the dictates of their culture and traditions. Here are just a few:
- Common courtesy is not only important and expected but learned as one would learn to read. For instance, if invited to a home you take flowers, speaking loudly is seen as rude, politeness dictates that you never speak harsh words if they might hurt someone’s feelings and the Mexican people never rush negotiations in business so expect a 15 to 20-minute delay.
- In 1862 French forces were defeated by the Mexican Army at the Battle of Puebla. However, the event is only sporadically celebrated in Mexico. In other parts of the world, however, Mexican immigrants use the date to celebrate their Hispanic traditions and heritage. Celebrations often include food, drink, and festivals and dedicate the day as the victory of self-determination.
- The Day of the Dead, Dia de Los Muertos, is celebrated to remember and honor the loved ones who have passed. All Saints Day is celebrated on November 1 and is dedicated to deceased children whereas November 2nd, or All Souls Day, is dedicated to adults. It’s not a spooky day reminiscent of Halloween in the U.S. but, rather, is a day to demonstrate love and happiness. It provides the Mexican people with the opportunity to think about their lives, ancestors, and heritage in a positive way.
5. Mexican Culture and Values
In Mexico, business and family structure, as well as the hierarchy of each group, drive Mexican values, especially for those that live outside urban areas. In such cases, families are usually larger where responsibility for each other is shared and includes extended family members and friends. Since the family is the center of their world, hosting parties and making visitors feel welcome is a huge part of their lives.
Families practice traditional gender roles with all-encompassing involvement by family members as well as relatives that live outside the home. A high degree of respect is shown to parents as well as to the family unit. However, constant struggles may exist especially between siblings in regards to personal needs and wants versus the needs and wants of the family unit.
6. Mexican Culture and Beliefs
The influence of Mexican beliefs has had a profound effect on their culture for centuries. Between 100 A.D. and 900 A.D. the Olmec, Toltec, Mayan and Aztec Empires developed a unique religion called Nahua. It was actually based on mathematics and astronomy much like the beliefs of the Egyptians and Assyrians. Additionally, it called for human sacrifices in order to appease their gods.
By the early 1500’s the Spaniards had arrived bringing with them the Catholic faith. Although many of the original deities were denounced in favor of the one true God, the people of Mexico still found ways to incorporate the beliefs of deities passed down through history into the new religion of the country.
To this day, Mexican people still appreciate the importance cultural icons such as the Virgin of Guadalupe who is believed to be of Mexican/Native American decent. The Pew Research Center reported that as of 2000, 96.3% of the Mexican people were Christians with the largest group embracing the Catholic faith.
7. Mexican Culture and Facts about Art
Mexican culture is, perhaps, best represented through its art. It’s unique, vibrant, colorful and represents a heritage rich in traditions. Olmec, Mayan and Aztec traditions and culture are also well-represented in the artwork created by today’s artists. Best of all, Mexican art in all forms has now made its way out of the country and can be found throughout the world.
One of the most popular forms of artistry is folk art which is frequently made by individuals without any formal training. Artisans incorporate depictions of modern culture as well as mythological representations into their work. Embroidered garments, pottery, rugs, furniture, home decor, festival masks and baskets can be found throughout the country and can often be purchased for very reasonable prices.
8. Facts About the Mexican Economy
With solid growth in their GDP since 2013, Mexico has become a strong contender on the global stage exceeding the growth of half its NAFTA partners. As with many countries, its economy depends on exports, which have improved over recent years making it the 12th largest exporter in the world.
It has been determined that the 12 Free Trade Agreements signed in 1994 lead to Mexico’s success in the world market. That number of Agreements has now increased to 44. However, this is not to say that challenges don’t exist.
The drug cartels, organized crime, and corruption in the police department has proven to be difficult obstacles to overcome. With an increase in security spending from 1.5% to 5% of the GDP, over 40,000 soldiers were drafted into the police department. Although still a struggle for the administration, the Mexican government has been able to make significant changes to improve living and working conditions for the people. As a result, the economic outlook for the country continues to look bright.
Every element of Mexican culture is fascinating when compared to other cultures throughout the world. The Amerindian and Spanish influences can be seen in their art, beliefs, values, traditions and every facet of their lives. It is also one of the most visited countries in the world making it a destination of choice for many tourists. Needless to say, it is a topic worth discussing.