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Marlene Canales
ENG 102
Cultural Essay
17 April 2015
My Mexican Culture Essay
Before I was able to experience Mexico on my own, I did not realize the grand
differences of culture and family in the United States and Mexico. Growing up I always had
more fun and felt closer to my family in Mexico but I did not know why. The culture of Mexico
has opened my eyes to new ways of seeing the world. In this last half of a decade I have learned
what a true family is and what real community is. I have noted drastic differences between my
family in Mexico and my family in the United States. The cultures I have observed in both
nations are at opposite ends of extremes. And most of all, Mexico has changed my way of
thinking and my experiences there have molded me into the person I am today.
Mexico is a very wonderful place. With the climates, the snow-capped volcanoes, and the
tropical rain forests. It's truly a beautiful place. The cultural background here is something else.
Our very famous holiday called the Days of the Dead is greatly celebrated in Mexico. The
celebration starts on November 1st and November 2nd. Here, I will tell you a little about the
celebration. It's a weeklong holiday when the souls of the dead return to be with their families for
one night. It is not a sad or dreary day like many people take it as. It is a day that brings joy and
happiness. Around here, it is also said that death in traditional Mexican culture does not have the
same meaning as it does among North Americans and Europeans. Candles are always present on
the altars. Usually made from beeswax. Photos of the saints of particular importance to the

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family sit on the altar along with photos. Bread of the dead represents the souls of the dead. The
dead consume the essence or soul of the bread. When they visit the loved ones. Bread is always
shaped in ovals. Flowers, which symbolize the brief life of a man. Yellow marigolds known as
the "the flower of the dead". In Mexico, death is something that is celebrated. Skeleton dolls and
toys are made for living children to play with.
There are more famous holidays such as Three Kings Day. It's on January 6th, we
celebrate that day because it honors the arrival of the three kings bearing gifts to baby Jesus.
Cinco de Mayo is also a rich celebration in history. It dates back to May 5th, 1862. When a
poorly equipped Mexican Army defeated a strong French invasion. 16 de Septiembre is a holiday
were Mexicans celebrate their independence. On September 1st, the same day in 1810, when a
battle cry sparked a revolution that would change history. Being my age you're too young to
forget anything. I almost remember that like yesterday. I wasn't around then but my great
grandpa told me everything that there was to know about it.
In Mexico, food is an intrinsic part of festivals, rituals, and personal commemorations,
but the daily meals are the focal points around which everyday life revolves. Mealtimes,
especially comida - the main meal of the day - are treated as special intervals, to be approached
with relish and respect for the work which went into their preparation. Breakfast is normally
served between 7:00 A.M. and 8:30 A.M. For many families, breakfast is quick and casual.
The Mexican culture encompasses a broad range of fascinating customs and traditions.
Varying cultural influences throughout history have extended the diverse nature of Mexican
customs, of which origins lie in Aztec rituals, the Mayan civilization and European conquests
(Zimmermann, 2013). Mexican culture has evolved over time and possesses a unique flavor.

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Areas of prominence that help give insight into the intricacies of the Mexican culture are
language, values, holidays and celebrations, clothing, food, art, and rites of passage. Each of
these seven areas of interest make up what is known as modern-day Mexican culture.
Language is an important aspect of Mexican culture. The culture has shaped the language, while
the language has shaped the culture. The history of language in Mexico gives a background into
the creation of current day Mexican culture. This culture in turn has made its mark on the
structure of the dominant language spoken. Looking at these two concepts in turn, we can get a
better understanding of modern-day Mexican society. The primary language spoken in Mexico
today is Spanish; however, it has not always been the primary language. Exploring Spaniards
brought Spanish to Mexico in the early 1500's (Mexico Adventure, 1999). When the Spaniards
made it to Mesoamerica, there were many different indigenous languages spoken. Like many
pre-colonized societies, the indigenous people spoke many different languages separated by their
location. Once the Spanish arrived, the land was pronounced territory of Spain. In this new
territory, titled New Spain, it was decreed that Aztec would be the official language by King
Philip II. This was officially overturned by King Charles II during 1570. Once this measure
passed, Spanish became the unofficial language of the people (Mexico Adventure, 1999). It
became necessary for the indigenous people to learn the language of their conquerors.
Mexico was the site of some of the earliest and most advanced civilizations in the western
hemisphere. The Mayan culture, according to archaeological research, attained its greatest
development about the 6th century AD. Another group, the Toltec, established an empire in the
Valley of Mexico and developed a great civilization still evidenced by the ruins of magnificent
buildings and monuments. The leading tribe, the Aztec, built great cities and developed an

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intricate social, political, and religious organization. Their civilization was highly developed,
both intellectually and artistically.
The first European explorer to visit Mexican territory was Francisco Fernndez de Crdoba,
who in 1517 discovered traces of the Maya in Yucatn. In 1535, some years after the fall of the
Aztec capital, the basic form of colonial government in Mexico was instituted with the
appointment of the first Spanish viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza. A distinguishing characteristic of
colonial Mexico was the exploitation of the Native Americans. Although thousands of them were
killed during the Spanish conquest, they continued to be the great majority of inhabitants of what
was referred to as New Spain, speaking their own languages and retaining much of their native
culture. Inevitably they became the laboring class. Their plight was the result of the 'encomienda'
system, by which Spanish nobles, priests, and soldiers were granted not only large tracts of land
but also jurisdiction over all Native American residents. A second characteristic of colonial
Mexico was the position and power of the Roman Catholic church. Franciscan, Augustinian,
Dominican, and Jesuit missionaries entered the country with the conquistadores. The Mexican
church became enormously wealthy through gifts and bequests that could be held in perpetuity.
Before 1859, when church holdings were nationalized, the church owned one-third of all
property and land.
The Mexican Revolution (1910-1917) was an event stimulated by the populace of
Mexico by the need for reform and change in the Mexican Economy and government. Overall,
the aims of the Revolution were to have greater policies for the distribution of land, labor and
social reform and a greater access to education for the Mexican peoples. From the Mexican
revolution emerged a new constitution in 1917. To a greater extent, these aims were consolidated

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by the Mexican Government through policies implemented by Cardenas (from 1934-1940)
including, definite land redistribution, and nationalization of key industries such as petroleum
and railroads and the secular education system. However, unlike Calles and his interim
presidents during the early thirties, Cardenas attempted and implemented very minimal anticlerical reform.
Land redistribution was a key example of one of the policies that was implemented by the
Mexican government to consolidate the aims of the Mexican Revolution. The post-revolutionary
governments of the period 1911-1934 did undertake some land reform, but it was premised on
the idea that capitalism would remain dominant in the countryside: what was to be abolished was
a supposedly "traditional" landlordism. Agrarian reform essentially dominated Cardenas's
policies and was perceived as one of his most influential. With the beginning of the land
redistribution program came 26 million acres of land to Mexico's rural zones. Even though land
reform was one of the Mexican Revolution's key objectives, the population after 2 decades of
revolutionary struggle had seen little change and improvement.
The Mexican culture is perhaps one of the most fascinating cultures worldwide. The mixture
of strong native legends, artistic expressions and Spanish culture elements make the Mexican
culture unique.

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Works Cited
Zimmermann, By Kim Ann. "Mexican Culture: Customs & Traditions." LiveScience.
TechMedia Network, 10 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 May 2015.
"Mexican People - Mexico`s Population, Language, Religion, Culture, Food & Drink."
Mexican People - Mexico`s Population, Language, Religion, Culture, Food & Drink. N.p., n.d.
Web. 09 May 2015.
"Mexican Culture: Celebrate the Mexican Holidays." Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant
Massachusetts. N.p., 12 Dec. 2012. Web. 09 May 2015.
"Hispanic Culture and Traditions." Kidzworld. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2015.
"Mexico - History & Culture." Mexico - History & Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2015.
"History of Dress in Central America and Mexico." LoveToKnow. N.p., n.d. Web. 09
May 2015.
Ilich, Tijana. "Mexico - Overview of Mexican Traditional Music." N.p., n.d. Web. 09
May 2015.
"The Richness of Mexican Culture." Mexican Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2015.