Mexican Traditions

This is a Mexican traditions guide. Mexico is a country with rich culture and history, so its traditions are a fundamental part of the life of Mexicans. There are all kinds of traditions, but the most significant and popular across the country have a religious background.

We have also compiled a page on Mexican celebrations with the patriotic dates and events in addition to the traditions mentioned in this page, and a page on Mexican national holidays.

Mexican Traditions Nativity Set Mexican Traditions Nativity Set

Christmas Mexican Traditions

  • Posadas

    Pinata Mexican Traditions Pinata Mexican Traditions

    Posadas is a Christian celebration in Mexico with Spanish origins. It starts on the 16th of December and it finishes on Christmas eve (24th of December). It happens nine days which correspond to the nine days of pregnancy of Mary.

    Each night there are a series of rituals which may differ depending on the part of the country and family traditions. Typically there is time for praying, time for breaking a piñata, and time for the enactment of the trip taken by Mary and Joseph escaping from the massacre of the innocents when the King of Judea, Herod the Great, ordered to kill all male babies after he was warned of the birth of the new King. In this ritual, two groups are formed: one group plays the holy peregrines (Mary and Joseph) and the other group the hosts that reject Joseph's request for lodging until the last stop.

  • The Three Wise Men

    This is also a Mexican tradition borrowed from the Spanish. This is a celebration that occurs on the 6th of January and it commemorates the visit of the three wise men (Melchor, Gaspar and Baltazar in Spanish) who brought gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) to baby Jesus, the New King of the Jews. Overnight, and depending on family traditions, children receive gifts or candy just like kids receive gifts on Christmas day on other parts of the country and the world.

    During this day, families and friends get together to share a ring-shaped roll and hot chocolate or atole. Each person takes a turn to get his or her own piece. In the roll there is one of the three things hidden: a ring, a thimble or a boy. If you get a ring you will be married within the next year, a thimble means you won't get married in a year, and the boy will make you the host of a party on the 2nd of February commemorating Candle-mass.

  • Christmas Eve

    Christmas Eve is the day of the last posada and is completed with a formal dinner. Also, on this day, families and friends exchange gifts. There is a mass at midnight (or 11pm) that many families attend.

  • Christmas Day

    Children wake up to find their gifts brought by Santa Claus although this tradition depends on the region and family costumes. Other families wait for the three wise men to bring the gifts (see above).

  • Virgin of Guadalupe
    The Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron of Mexican Catholics and is also venerated by many Catholics in Latin-America. Mexicans celebrate the Virgin of Guadalupe on the 12th of December. On this day, there are parades, masses, and a pilgrimage to the Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City.

Holy Week and Eastern Mexican Celebrations

  • Carnival

    Carnival is the name given to festivities before lent when some Christians go into abstinence for 40 days. Carnival seems to have its origins in France but today is celebrated in different places of the world being the most famous in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and New Orleans.

    In Mexico the most famous carnivals happen in Veracruz and Mazatlán. During the celebration that ends the Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday there is music, parades, dancing, food, and fireworks.

  • The Passion of Christ

    This is an impressive event which enacts the life of Jesus Christ just before his crucifixion.

    It occurs in different parts of the country, but the representation in Iztapalapa, Mexico City is without doubt the most famous and monumental with more than 160 years of tradition.

    The festivities happen during Holy Week (the week before Eastern) which varies every year according to the lunar calendar which the Catholic church follows to determine Holy Week and Eastern dates.

    The Passion of Christ is performed for two days on Holy Thursday and Friday. During these days, Christ is personified by an actor who goes through the key events in the New Testament from the Last Supper to the death of Christ. Thousands of people play a role in the event, and millions visit the route to see it.

  • The Silence Procession

    This is a procession that represents the sadness of the Christian faith for the death of Jesus, and it starts on Good Friday in the evening time. The image of the death Jesus Christ leads the parade with the Virgin Mary behind. There are hundreds of people that follow with candles and cone-shaped hoods. Everybody walks with mournful expressions. Participants carry crosses, and religious images and dress according to their religious denomination. There are the groups of the charros and adelitas (Mexican women of the revolution), as well as the Chirimía and Teponaxtle, both comprised of indigenous natives. It is truly a cultural experience!

    The most famous procession is in San Luis Potosi, although other cities have similar events.

Indigenous Traditions

  • La Guelaguetza

    Also called Mondays on the Hill, is a cultural celebration when groups from different indigenous populations come to the city of Oaxaca for an exchange of traditions with dances, music, costumes, crafts (usually textiles) and food. It is the most famous indigenous gathering in Mexico

    The celebration is usually on the two following Mondays after the 16th of July except when the 18th of July falls on a Monday to honor the death of Benito Juarez (ex-President of Mexico from Oaxaca).

More Mexican Traditions

  • Mother's and Father's Day

    Mother's and Father's day have become increasingly popular celebrations. Granted that they are in really a marketing invention, everybody is now using these days to pamper mom and dad.

    For Mexicans, mother's day is always on the 10th of May, and father's day is on the third Sunday in the month of June (as in the US).

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