15 mexican traditions that will surprise you


August 27, 2020

Every country has customs and traditions that distinguish them from the rest of the world, and Mexico is no exception.

Throughout the year, you will find festivities full of music, dance and color with deep meaning and strong cultural roots.

Mexican traditions have survived the passage of time, some have been transformed, mixed with customs from other states or countries but rescuing and preserving their essence.

Here is everything you need to know about the most popular Mexican traditions, which you should not miss.

1. Day of the Dead

If there is one thing that sets Mexico apart, it is the way we honor our dead. This tradition takes place on November 1 and 2 of each year. The Day of the Dead fills the streets of every city and municipality, and Mexican homes with color.

Honoring and showing respect to the dead is a custom that has been passed down from generation to generation. There are variations of this tradition in each region, such as the Hanal Pixan, a unique tradition in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Visiting the graves of the deceased, cleaning the tombs and decorating them with flowers are some of the traditions of this celebration, but without a doubt, one of the most outstanding customs is to place an altar that welcomes the deceased who visit us on these dates.

During these dates you can find great cultural richness and taste the special food of the country.  Dare to live one of the most emblematic traditions in Mexico.

Day of the Dead
The belief is that the souls of our deceased return from the afterlife during those days to visit family and friends.

2. La Guelaguetza in Oaxaca

La Guelaguetza, also known as ¨Los lunes del Cerro¨, is the most important holiday in Oaxaca. This is a celebration full of music, color and joy, which takes place on the two Mondays following July 16th.

The Guelaguetza, with religious origins, began as an indigenous celebration dedicated to Centéotl, the goddess of tender corn. After the Spanish Conquest, this celebration became a Catholic rite performed in honor of the Virgen del Carmen.

The Guelaguetza gathers representatives from the eight regions of Oaxaca, who take the Cerro Fortín to perform their traditional dances, typical costumes and great gastronomic variety.

Over the years, the Guelaguetza has become more popular, extending its festivities with activities that satisfy all tastes. Cultural events, dances, gastronomic demonstrations and concerts by artists of the moment are some of the activities you can enjoy.

Some of the dances that are performed on the Lunes de Cerro are the Sones Serranos, the Jarabe Mixteco, the Danza de la Pluma, the Sandunga and the Danza Flor de Piña.

Banner of real estate developments in Merida.

3. The Papantla Flyers

The Papantla Flyers are known all over the world. Their dance takes place in the city of Papantla, Veracruz but it is not the only region where it is performed.

This ritual dates back to pre-Hispanic times and although it has been modified over time, it retains its original meaning.From the beginning this event is part of the merit rituals, in which they sought to obtain prosperity and a long life.

The ritual begins when the leader of the dancers goes into the forest in search of the best tree to perform the dance.It is necessary to clean the land so that when the tree falls, its structure is not damaged. Once on the ground, the branches and foliage are removed to leave only the trunk.

The final part of the ritual is the well-known descent of the dancers suspended from a rope. This dance is an ancestral tradition that will undoubtedly surprise you.

Thousands of visitors congregate to admire this show and get to know a little more about the intrepid bird men.

The Papantla Flyers
Although in recent years it has been decided to use a metal structure for the pole, the frame and other elements that make up the pole are still made of wood.

4. Dance of the Parachicos in Chiapas

From January 8 to 23, the largest celebration in Chiapa de Corzo is held. The dance of the Parachicos was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

The most striking aspect of this festival is that you can see the dancers dressed in embroidered shawls, sarapes and colored ribbons, wooden masks and carrying tin rattles called chinchines which they play during the dances.

As in all the customs and traditions of Mexico, the best traditional dishes and drinks cannot be missed.

Dance of the Parachicos
The parade is led by a patron whose mask looks more severe, carries a guitar and plays the flute. Similarly, people can be seen carrying holy images to places of worship.

5. San Marcos National Fair

It is one of the most important and oldest fairs in Mexico. It takes place in Aguascalientes between the months of April and May. At first, it was intended to serve as a forum for livestock and agriculture. This is an excellent opportunity if you are looking to invest in Mexico.

At the fair you will find cultural, sports and business events and a great sample of the gastronomy that characterizes the town.  There are more than 90 hectares of land available for this purpose.

Among the main attractions you can enjoy San Marcos Island also known as the place of the family, a green area with an artificial lake, the National Charro Championship, various exhibitions, musical concerts, cultural events, among others.

San Marcos National Fair
Over the years, it grew in popularity until it became what we know today, an event that you won't want to miss.

6. Parade of Alebrijes in CDMX

It is a recently created event which has had an excellent acceptance. The Alebrijes Parade has been held since 2007 and is organized by the Museum of Popular Art with the help of several institutions.

Albrijes are an icon of Mexican culture and have their origin in the early 20th century. The artist Pedro Linares, who was famous for his ability to create carnival masks and other paper mache works, became ill with a fever that caused him to have many vivid dreams bringing these unique and colorful figures to life.

The parade starts in the Zócalo of the city and you will be able to admire paper mache figures, painted in brilliant colors, up to 4 meters high. The parade can look like a carnival when accompanied by musicians, clowns, costumed people and more.

At the end of the parade the figures are displayed in the Paseo de la Reforma.  Afterwards, the alebrijes are judged and prizes are awarded to the artisans.

The celebration also consists of two literary competitions: a story and a play about alebrijes and a musical competition.

Parade of Alebrijes
The purpose of holding this celebration annually is to establish a tradition in honor of Mexican folk art and crafts. It takes place on a Saturday in the last days of September.

7.  Celebration of Saint Cecilia

Santa Cecilia is known as the patroness saint of musicians, which is why this date is known as the day of the musician. Every year, on November 22nd, various activities are held to honor her.

In each town the musicians have the custom of singing mañanitas, concerts and showing off their musical skills. It is an excellent opportunity to enjoy the best Mexican music.

Among the most popular celebrations is the one at Plaza Garibaldi, in Mexico City. Musicians of various genres and mariachis gather for a public concert.

In the municipality of Apaseo el Grande, in Guanajuato, this festivity is taken very seriously. Masses and various dances are organized and the festivities can last up to 4 days.

8. Carnival of Veracruz

Although this festivity takes place in many regions of the country, the carnival of Veracruz stands out for being the most famous in Latin America after the one in Rio de Janeiro.

Some of the events are the coronation of the carnival kings, which takes place in the city's zocalo, and the "Quema del Mal humor" (burning of the bad mood), which starts the festivities.

During the 9 days that this celebration lasts you will be able to admire how the streets of the city are filled with color and joy. There are parades of floats decorated with unique designs that will surprise you and are accompanied by dancers who wear colorful costumes.

The city is full of visitors who travel from other parts of the country willing to enjoy the joyful Jarocho atmosphere. To conclude the festivities, on the ninth day, the burial of Juan Carnaval takes place.

You will be able to participate in artistic and cultural activities, as well as attend concerts by top level artists and groups.

9. Holy Week

Holy Week, also known as Semana Mayor, is one of the best known religious celebrations in Mexico. This is the most important time for the Catholic community.

In spite of being a religious celebration, it is considered a national holiday, so it is common to see activities suspended at many levels of school, government and private areas.

This holiday period is considered one of the best times of the year to go on vacation with family and friends.

Among the favorite destinations of nationals and foreigners are the beautiful beaches of the Riviera Maya. This is not for less, since the Riviera Maya has many activities that will make you want to move.

There is nothing better than being able to relax on the beach enjoying the best scenery and a wide variety of food and drinks in the region. So, if you want to live in a paradise full of adventure this is the ideal option for you.

Holy Week
The beaches in the Mexican Caribbean stand out for their crystal clear waters, magical landscapes, archeological sites and endless tourist activities that you will love.

10. Independence Day

Every year on September 16, Mexicans around the world celebrate Mexico's independence. It is one of the traditions that best represent the pride of being Mexican, and that is why every September is called the month of the nation.

On the night of September 15, Mexicans gather in the zocalo of each city or in their homes. Outside the country, Mexicans in different parts of the world do not let this day go by and they also gather to celebrate.

The main event of the night is the famous ¨Grito of Independencia¨ simulating what Father Hidalgo did on September 16, 1810. The President of the Republic is in charge of making this representation at a national level and in each city and municipality it is replicated by the rulers in turn.

During this celebration you will be able to enjoy the traditional Mexican food stands, mariachi music, concerts by artists of different genres and, of course, the fireworks shows cannot be missed.

Mexico's independence
Days before this date, the streets, homes, shops and buildings are dressed in celebration as the people wearing the colors of our flag: green, white and red. You will be able to live the spirit of this celebration in every corner.

11. Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe

In Mexico, the Catholic religion is deeply rooted in our culture. The celebrations around the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe start the December festivities known as the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon.

The celebration takes place on December 12 as it is the date of the last apparition of the Virgin to San Juan Diego on the Tepeyac hill, according to Catholic belief.

On December 11, at 6:45 p.m., the celebrations begin with serenades and other tributes. At 12:00 am musicians and artists sing the traditional "mañanitas" to the Virgin.

During the day the churches and parishes see a great influx of people to attend the scheduled masses. In several places in the country, thousands of people go on pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

As in all traditions in Mexico you will be able to enjoy a great variety of dishes prepared for the occasion, as well as the best music.

Banner of real estate developments in the Riviera Maya.

12. The Posadas

The posadas take place from December 16th to 24th. They are one of the most beautiful traditions in Mexico.

During the 9 days of the posadas, prayers are said and each one has a different meaning: humility, strength, detachment, charity, trust, justice, purity, joy and generosity.

By custom, a house is designated as the host for each day, and neighbors and family members organize to carry out these activities.  After the prayers you can enjoy a conviviality where food and drink are offered to those attending and they can break the traditional piñata.

In the posadas, it is customary for participants to blindfold themselves to break the piñata, which is made of baked clay or cardboard and is decorated with colorful paper mache.

Today, piñatas accompany all kinds of festivities and are not limited only to the posadas.

The piñata
The piñata has an important meaning; it represents the hard work and effort to end evil. The body symbolizes evil or sin, the seven spikes represent the seven deadly sins, the blindfold represents blind faith, and the stick you hit with is willpower.

13.  Christmas Eve and Christmas

In Mexico, Christmas Eve is celebrated in various ways: Some choose to attend the last posada of the year and then join the family for Christmas dinner.

Others wait until midnight to attend Midnight Mass, celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus, and then have dinner with their families.

Throughout the country, there are performances of pastorela, representing the journey of the shepherds to go and worship Jesus. You will love these shows.

The Christmas dinner is the best occasion to get together with the family and loved ones. The dishes of the night vary depending on the tastes of each family but in general you can find: romeritos with mole, tamales, turkey, and Christmas salad.

Christmas dinner.
In most hotels and restaurants you can find a menu and entertainment for this occasion while visiting our country.

14. New Year

In New Year's Eve, people reunite with family and friends to celebrate.

There are some traditions around this celebration. The following are some of the most popular:

  • Eating 12 grapes, each one for every wish for the New Year.
  • Wearing colored underwear: Every color means something: yellow for abundance and prosperity, red for love, and green for health.
  • Walking down the streets with luggage: it is believed that it will bring good luck to travel during the year.

Many locals and foreigners choose to travel to the beach on their December vacation. There is no better way to welcome the new year than to enjoy the atmosphere and the best food and drinks of the Mexican Caribbean.

New Year's Eve
Dinner, music, piñatas and fireworks and some of the things that make this celebration unique.

15. Epiphany or Three Wise Men's Day

It is a religious holiday celebrated in Mexico on January 6 to commemorate the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem to worship the baby Jesus.

This is an excellent opportunity to get together with your friends and family to enjoy a delicious slice of the traditional rosca de reyes and a cup of hot chocolate.

Don't miss out on the wide variety of bagels that are baked: try the different types of fillings and toppings that you will love.

The rosca de reyes hides inside one or more plastic dolls representing the baby Jesus.T he custom dictates that whoever finds one of these dolls must present the baby Jesus in church and invite his family and friends to eat tamales on February 2nd, better known as La Candelaria's day.

Three Wise Men's Day‍
This celebration ends the Guadalupe - Reyes Marathon.

Mexico, a place full of culture

Mexico has become a country where gastronomy, architecture and above all its traditions and culture captivate any foreigner. No doubt you will realize how much it is worth visiting us and living the adventure.

Throughout the year, Mexico will surprise you with unforgettable experiences, the most exclusive services, beautiful beaches and the best in culture and entertainment.

That's why Mexico is the best place to live.  If you want to learn more about our country, we invite you to read our article about the best places to invest in Mexico.

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