Mexico has some of Latin America’s most unique and colorful traditions. Many of the country’s traditions combine elements of Indigenous cultures and customs from Europe. Here are five Mexican traditions that help define Mexican culture, and ones that you should experience – especially if visiting Mexico.
Dia de los Muertos
The Day of the Dead a two-day holiday in Mexico. Celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, Dia de los Muertos honors friends and family who passed away. While it is often mistakenly compared to Halloween, festivities are not as grim and scary. The lively celebration is full of bright colors and decorative face painting. They often involve creating tables full of photographs of departed friends and family alongside their favorite things, from food to personal items. Families and friends get together to enjoy good food and dancing, and also visit graves of loved ones for all-night vigils.
Cinco de Mayo
Although more popular outside Mexico, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the country’s victory over France in 1862. The day typically involves lots of traditions, including pinatas and has become popular in the United State in particular. The pinata is a paper structure that typically has candy, trinkets or other goodies inside. They are usually in the form of an animal and hung from a high spot. Children are then blindfolded and swing at the pinata with a bat, hoping to break it open to reach the treats inside. Cinco de Mayo also involves crafting, music and of course food.
On September 16, Mexicans celebrate Independence Day. Festivities kick off at midnight, although there are also cultural celebrations on September 15. Town squares across Mexico come alive with music and dancing as well as traditional food. El Grito de Dolores or the Cry of Dolores is the most important tradition of Independence Day. It represents the rallying cry to Mexican troops before they fought the Spanish and is recreated across the country. One of the largest events is in Mexico City, which features an impressive firework display after the Cry of Dolores.
In December, Las Posadas commemorates Mary and Joseph and their journey to Bethlehem. It usually runs from December 16 to December 24. The religious celebration has many traditions, including naming a child as the ‘angel’ who carries statues of Mary and Joseph. Las Posadas also involves nine nights of celebrations with traditional food and drinks, and is usually features parties in different homes. Before gathering, guests form a procession to evoke Mary and Joseph’s search for an inn – or posada.
Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe
The Virgin of Guadalupe is one of the most important religious figures in Mexico. Celebrated on December 12, the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe is an important religious holiday and marks the day the Virgin Mary appeared in Mexico City in 1531. For some, the day involves a pilgrimage – on foot for some – to the Basilica de Guadalupe from every corner of Mexico.
If you visit Mexico for one of these traditions or just to experience the country’s rich culture, remember your trip with a unique souvenir. For example, custom Mexican map art is a fun and personal way to remember you travels.