Mexican culture: characteristics and popular traditions

Mexican culture is rich due to its long history, and is the result of the fuse of indigenous and Spanish traditions, the latter imposed due to colonization. Right off the bat, Mexico is synonymous with mariachis, hot peppers, tequila, and the popular Day of the Dead.

However, in this article you will discover a little more about the great amount of customs and traditions of the Mexican people, one of the happiest in the American continent. You will also learn a little more about its history that identifies it worldwide and some curiosities. In this way, if you decide to visit Mexico, you will have a certain notion about this nation.

Origin of Mexican culture

As mentioned previously, it is a mestizo culture, born from the fruit of various continents, as it happens in many Latin American nations. However, in this case there is a strong Spanish and Catholic heritage that owes its origin to the ancient Aztec empire and other pre-Columbian cultures.

With regard to its American roots we can find the Mexica, the Mayan and the Toltec, until in the 500s the Spanish influence was felt after the colonizers arrived in American lands. On the other hand, the uniqueness of the richness of this culture is due to the mixture of some modern elements and its unmistakable indigenous legacy that can be noticed with the naked eye.

It should be noted that there are still 52 native peoples, although although they are decimated, they protect their language and traditions. In Mexico its aboriginal legacy is present in the arts and gastronomy (Considered by Unesco Intangible Heritage of Humanity)

Characteristics of Mexican culture

It is not unreasonable to think that Mexican culture is the richest in Latin America thanks to the great foreign influence which has affected all its components, for which its people are proud. Next we will proceed to develop the most outstanding ones.

Mexican culture: characteristics and popular traditions


In this regard, we have to define Mexican literature as all that work that was developed by authors from that country or that was written within the country. This element is internationally prominent because the works are considered the most prestigious and influential in the Spanish language, along with the Argentine and Cuban.

It is common for Mexican literary works to deal with issues related to the Mexican Revolution, poverty and social inequality. The importance of this cultural trait lies in the fact that it was part of the well-known “Latin American boom”, which was a time of expansion of Hispanic literature. Among its most relevant authors are Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, Fernando del Paso, among many others.


Mexican music is considered a means of expression of the Mexican people with its different variations. Very consumed by Spanish speakers, it usually deals with issues of infidelity, lost love with a certain touch of machismo, but always including sentimentality.

Special mention to the genre “The Mariachi ”that it is a traditional musical genre and a fundamental part of Mexican culture. Interpreted by 2 or more musicians dressed in a charro suit, they are in charge of playing and singing a wide repertoire of songs along with string instruments.


Mexican gastronomy dates back to the pre-Hispanic period, at that time the dishes revolved around corn, together with other ingredients such as chili peppers, beans, avocado and tomato. until With the arrival of the Spanish, fruits, sugar, oils and cereals were introduced, giving rise to what we know today as Mexican food..

Some dishes such as tacos and enchiladas have an international reputation, in addition some drinks such as tequila, beer, fresh waters of tropical fruits also have their origin in Mexico. Since 2010, traditional Mexican cuisine is recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Heritage.


Sites such as Tulúm, Cobá and Monte Albán have their origin in the 16th century, created by the aborigines inspired by Mesoamerican cultures, especially the Aztec empire. Although it was subjected to the force of the Spanish conquerors who also documented much of the information that is available today. The archaeological legacy of the ancient Mexican ethnic groups is considered one of the most important in the world.

The Xoloitzcuintle, the native dog

It is one of the most curious canine breeds and also one of the oldest. The xoloitzcuintle is the Aztec dog native to Mexico. It was considered by this civilization as a gift from the God Xólotl with the mission of guiding the souls of the deceased who moved to the underworld, in addition to which it was believed that it had the ability to ward off and protect the homes of diabolical spirits. Once their owner died they were sacrificed and buried in graves.

This breed is characterized by not having hair, with many more teeth than the rest of the dogs, their skin is soft and being completely bald they do not contract fleas. It should be noted that it is a specimen that is used to being calm, silent and cheerful, the main features to be the companion of the family. It is common to find it in different sizes

Mexican traditions

Mexican traditions are as rare as they are known around the world thanks to their attractiveness and their roots with indigenous peoples, which is not surprising since there are approximately 13 million people belonging to some ethnic group among its population, this being the country being the largest in Latin America in this regard. Many of its customs come from its roots and are more than current.

Mexican culture: characteristics and popular traditions

Day of the Dead

In this case we are talking about one of the most deeply rooted traditions of Mexican culture, celebrated between November 1 and 2, the date on which according to local beliefs the dead are allowed to visit their living families.

It is based on honor a loved one who passed away, Through private parties that often have altars with candles, flowers and some object used by the dead, it is known as the “Day of the Dead offering”.

In this festival colors predominate and the catrinas, typical skulls of Mexican culture, are so popular that they were portrayed in animated films such as Coconut in 2017. Its origin dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, when the skulls were used as social criticism in the publications of the time with the aim of representing that the Mexican people were poor, however, they wanted to give another appearance.

In some Mexican towns, families get together to visit the grave of a loved one and eat in the cemetery, however, there are different ways of celebrating depending on the place. The Mexican culture sees death as something completely natural so they take it with positivism unlike other western cultures where it can represent an authentic tragedy.

Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe

One of the most important dates for the Mexican people is the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, In this festivity the first appearance of the virgin is celebrated before the indigenous Juan Diego, which after a long wait, in 2002 was elevated to saint by the Catholic Church.

According to sources, the story goes back to December 9, 1531 when Juan Diego, in his customary transfer to the mass of Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, heard the song of a lady. It was the Virgin of Guadalupe who would ask him to build a temple in that place and to convey her wish to the bishop.

Despite Juan’s requests and that there were no churches in the region, the parish priests and bishops ignored the wish. Subsequently, the indigenous man had two more appearances with the same requirement, for which a proof of history was asked to corroborate what he was saying.

On December 12, Juan Diego, concerned and disappointed by the health of his uncle, passed again through Tepeyac, the place where he had had the other apparitions, and the virgin presented herself to him again, asking him what ailed him. After the indigenous’s explanations, the virgin replied not to worry, that her family member would be fine.

Instead the Virgin asked him to go up the hill to collect flowers and take them to the Bishop, Juan followed the instructions exactly and when he was received in the mantle where he had the Roses of Castile, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared painted with a perfect finish.

This is why every December 12 at midnight thousands of Mexicans congregate with songs and offerings before an altar for the Virgin. It also highlights the celebration of various masses, the most important being the one dedicated to the Celebration and Blessing of the Roses at noon.

Independence Day

Currently, the Mexican Independence Day is celebrated from the night of September 15 when different members of the government harangue the population with the traditional cry of pain, then they proceed to sing the National Anthem, concluding the protocol party and giving way to the National Holiday of Mexico.

The streets of the country are filled with parties and it is common to see several Mexicans wearing typical costumes, some representative sites are illuminated with the colors of the national flag, in addition to seeing food stalls selling different dishes typical of their culture. Finally at night it is customary to end in style with a fireworks show worthy of admiration and it is one of the most important dates in Mexico.

Mexican culture: characteristics and popular traditions

Candlemas day

It is a popular Catholic celebration that takes place on February 2, considered the third most important after Christmas and Easter. Often celebrated with tamales, as it coincides with the blessing of the corn harvest in the Aztec calendar, that is why they cannot be absent since they are made with this ingredient.

It should be noted that tamales have been consumed in Mexico for hundreds of years, even long before the arrival of the Spanish, these are a corn dough wrapped in the leaves of the harvest and serve as a companion for various dishes. Over the years other components such as meat and butter have been added. Nowadays there are a lot of variations of this dish.

The Charrería

Charrería is the practice of herding horse cattle, The techniques are transmitted through associations and special schools, training the community so that they can even participate in public contests called charreadas in which there are usually large numbers of spectators admiring the skills of men in the field with traditional clothing.

The charrería is a fundamental part of the Mexican identity and is also part of the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is considered by practitioners a means of transmitting social values ​​such as respect and equality among all members of a community

Revolution Day

On November 20 of each year, the beginning of the Mexican Revolution is commemorated, this historical event took place in 1910 and is referred to as the most important political and social event of the 20th century, when an armed conflict is carried out to leave with the aim of getting out of the dictatorship of General Porfirio Díaz.

The armed struggle was led by Pascual Orozco, Francisco “Pancho” Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who after achieving military victories obtained the resignation of Porfirio Díaz and his subsequent exile.

In 1917 a new Constitution was promulgated in which all the wishes of the Mexican people were reflected. However, the cost was high. There were numerous casualties of compatriots faced and that is why this date is remembered as an important point in the history of the country.

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