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4 Famous Mexican Traditions

Let’s see which are the most deeply rooted famous Mexican traditions. In this selection, we will see four of them so that you know them.


As a passionate traveler and proud Mexican, I’m thrilled to share some of the most popular Mexican traditions that are celebrated all over the country. From colorful festivals to traditional rituals, Mexico is home to a wide variety of customs that have been passed down through generations for centuries. In this article, I will tell you about four famous Mexican traditions that you must experience during your travels. We hope you enjoy learning about them as much as we do!

The list is quite long, and if we look at the customs of each state in the republic, we find even more. At first, we understand that it can be overwhelming, which is why we are going to review 4 traditions from Mexico that, we believe, are among the most famous, and that are celebrated throughout the country equally.

Mexican handicraft
Live Mexico through its traditions!

Let’s explore 4 of the most famous Mexican traditions

Day of the dead (Día de muertos)

First, we have the Day of the Dead (Día de muertos). Of the Mexican traditions, this is probably one of the best known and famous, both inside and outside the country. It is celebrated on November 2 and its origin dates back to pre-Hispanic times, when it was believed that the dead returned to visit the earth on this date.

The Day of the Dead is a time to remember and honor our deceased loved ones. Families create ofrendas (offerings) with the deceased’s favorite foods and belongings, and visit their graves to spend time together and tell stories about them. Here we tell you everything that’s included in a Day of the Dead altar.

Elements of a day of the dead altar

Independence Day (Día de la Independencia)

Next, we have Independence Day marked on the calendar on September 16. This is a day on which we celebrate our independence from Spain. The War of Independence began in 1810 and culminated in 1821. Families often spend time together on this day, and there are often parades and festivals in cities and towns across the country. These parades and festivals often involve delicious typical Mexican dishes, music, fireworks, and dance. On these dates in the country, we can see a massive sale of objects with the national colors and Mexican flags of all sizes.

Every September 15, the President gives a speech from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City, and then everyone shouts ¡Viva México! We know this act in Mexico as “give the cry.” In each state, their respective governor performs the same ceremony to give the cry at the state level. Here we show you how the Independence of Mexico is celebrated, at the “Cry” ceremony that we could witness in Baja California.

September 16 is a national holiday, Independence Day, the day that Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla carried out the act with which the War of Independence began, known as “the Cry of Dolores”.

Tortillas Mexico
The tortillas cannot be missing

Historical controversy with the date

Then you will surely wonder why the act of the highest authorities of the country that perform the ceremony emulating the Grito de Dolores is held on September 15? Many think that the reason is that Porfirio Díaz changed the date to make it coincide with his birthday, which is September 15.

This is not entirely true because before he was president, it was customary to start celebrating independence from September 15 at night. The thing that Porfirio Díaz did was order the transfer of the Bell of Dolores to the National Palace in 1896, to give “the cry” in the Zocalo of Mexico City. From this change, it became a tradition for the president to give the Cry of Independence on the night of September 15 in the Zocalo and that in turn is replicated in each state with the local authorities.

Mexican Independence Day is not on the 5 of May

There seems to be some confusion around the world about when this monumental celebration takes place. Let me set the record straight: Mexican Independence Day is NOT on May 5th!

Contrary to popular belief (outside of Mexico), Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is not Mexico’s Independence Day. Instead, it commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when a small group of Mexican soldiers defeated French forces in an unexpected victory. While Cinco de Mayo is still celebrated throughout Mexico, but in a much smaller way, and around the world, it’s important to note that it’s not our country’s true independence anniversary.

Mexican flag
The flag flies more eagerly in September

Our Lady of Guadalupe Day (Virgen de Guadalupe)

December 12 is a significant day in Mexico because it is the day that Mexico celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe. The virgin is the patron saint of Mexico and her image is very popular in the country.

On this day, there are many festivities and traditions that are held in her honor. One of the most important Mexican traditions is the pilgrimage that is made to the Basilica of Guadalupe, which is where her image is located.

basilica of Guadalupe
It is in the Basilica of Guadalupe where many pilgrims gather for December 12

This pilgrimage is made by many Mexicans, who walk long distances to reach the basilica. It is said that it can sometimes take up to several days, as people come from all over the country to participate.

Another important tradition that takes place on this day is the offering of flowers and candles to the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is done as a sign of respect and devotion to the virgin, whom we affectionately call “la virgencita” (the little virgin).

Candles
La virgencita

The posadas

Every year, from December 16 to 24, in Mexico we celebrate Christmas Posadas. Families and friends gather each night to sing traditional songs, break piñatas, and enjoy each other’s company. Las Posadas originally come from Spain, and were a way to celebrate María and José’s journey to find a place to stay in Bethlehem. The word Posada means “refuge” in Spanish.

That is the traditional way of doing a posada, nowadays, you can also see the posadas that are parties where families, friends or co-workers gather to complete the Christmas celebrations.

Today, Posadas across the country, such as in Querétaro and its magical towns like Peña de Bernal, are a way for locals and tourists to come together and celebrate the Christmas season. If you’re in town during Posadas, be sure to join in on the fun!

Posada in Queretaro
Representation of a posada that we saw in Querétaro

Conclusion

So, there you have it! These are the 4 most famous Mexican traditions that everyone should know, at least if you want to know more about Mexican culture. We have presented a brief description of each one, which we hope you find useful. Join us in celebrating Mexico!

Olga Grijalva

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

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