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Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Mexican culture is very much alive in Florida

By Francenette MonsalveSpecial to CSMS Magazine

 

Mexican Culture is a very large culture in Florida, especially in eastern Hillsborough County. Many migrant families move in and out of eastern Hillsborough County each year, as the vegetable season comes and goes. This culture is very evident, and the students in this culture are often put in and out of our school system on a yearly basis.Interpersonal Communication Style of the Mexican CultureAccording to interviews I have done with Mexican children and their parents, interpersonal communication is very lively, spirited and friendly most of the time. Friends joke between themselves and tease each other in a gentle manner, but putting others down is frowned upon, and children are scolded if they are caught doing it. Adults like to sit around and enjoy each other’s company in the evenings and talk about their day while the children are studying or playing. While arguments can become loud, they are often forgotten by the next day. In formal situations, body language and mannerisms are very important, such as the way you stand and how you approach someone to introduce yourself. When in an informal setting, most of these customs go by the wayside, and friends and family interact in much the same way as any other culture.Nonverbal CommunicationMaking or keeping eye contact in the Mexican culture is considered impolite. When speaking to someone and keeping your hands near your side is most polite. Placing your hands on your hips suggests aggressiveness, and keeping your hands in your pockets is rude. Most men shake hands upon meeting and leaving, and will wait for a woman to be the first to offer her hand. Women may shake hands with men and other women. Many times a woman may pat another woman’s shoulder or forearm, or kiss on the cheek. Many longtime friends may embrace. After several meetings and encounters with the same people of this culture, one may also be greeted with an embrace. (Nicol, J. & Taylor, S., n.d.)            Conversations take place at a close physical distance. Stepping back from this close distance may be regarded as unfriendly. Mexican men are often warm and friendly. They often touch shoulders or hold another’s arm; and to withdraw from this physical contact is considered insulting.Child/Parent InteractionMexican parents teach their children to minimize eye contact, especially with adults. To maintain eye contact is considered rude and interpreted as questioning of authority. Children of this culture are taught by their parents that the family needs to take priority over the needs of the individual. Mexican children are rarely spanked or punished in public. Extended families are very prevalent and help in raising the children. First cousins are as close as brother or sister, and aunts and uncles hold special kinship. Children are expected to be respectful, obedient, and to do their best. (Grammatica, J., 2006)Parent/Teacher InteractionTeachers are seen as the authoritarian over the child’s education. Most Mexican families have the utmost respect for the teacher and hold them in very high standings. Many times communication between the parent and teacher is limited due to language issues. However, school documents are written in Spanish as well as English, and the student usually acts as an interpreter.ReligionAccording to Wikipedia Encyclopedia, about 89% of Mexicans identify themselves as Roman Catholics, which is the dominant religion of Mexico. Evangelical denominations have grown in recent years to about six percent of the population with the remaining five percent practice indigenous religions. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have shown the most notable growth recently. Baptisms are a very important religious ceremony in the Mexican culture. This ceremony creates a spiritual bond between the child, the parents, and the godparents. The parents assist the godparents in forming a close lifetime relationship with the child. This relationship establishes a wider kinship bond within the community beyond the extended family, which strengthens the community as a whole.FoodMexican food is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and the variety of spices that it has. Many Mexican meals are based on two main foods: beans and corns. Corn tortillas are a very common food for Mexicans, and this food seems to be the equivalent of what white bread would be for Americans. Some of the intense flavors in Mexican food come from the variety of chile peppers that are incorporated in most dishes. Some of the most popular peppers are habanero, jalapeno, pasilla, and poblano. (Nicol, et al.)ClothingThe sombrero is probably the most well known item in the Mexican culture. A popular piece of clothing for women is the huipil; this garment is similar to a sack with holes placed in it for the head and arms. It is most commonly made from cotton. However, heavy wool is also used in some instances. A huipil is made from rectangular strips of cloth, between one and three strips of this garment are sewn together lengthwise. Another garment worn by Mexican women is the quechquemitl. It is a garment that is draped over the body, the head goes through one of the corners, and the bottom corners are left hanging in the front and the back. Women also wear a skirt that is made from a long woven rectangular cloth, and is worn by wrapping it around the body and tucking in one corner. These skirts are called manta, lia, costal, sabana, and enredo. (Grammatica, J, 2006) Both men and women wear belts. These belts are made of cloth and are decorated with patterns or stripes.HolidaysThe Mexican culture has nine main holidays that are celebrated. These holidays are: Dia De Muertos, Las Posadas, Noche Buena, Los Reyes Magos, Semana Santa, 5 De Meayo, Carnaval, Dia De Independencia, and Virgin De Guadalupe. Each of these holidays is very significant to most Mexicans.            Dia De Muertos is also called the Day of the Dead. This holiday is a celebration that represents the unity between life and death. This holiday is celebrated in conjunction with the catholic celebrations of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These holidays are celebrated on October 31st, November 1st, and on the second of November. Las Posadas is a celebration that begins on December 16th and is a candlelight procession and lively parties that continue on for nine consecutive days.             Noche Buena is celebrated on December 24th. This celebration is a culmination of holiday festivities with the celebration of a midnight mass. (Mexican Embassy)History of Mexican CultureWhile the history of the Mexican people goes back possibly as far as 20,000 years, the modern Mexican people’s world outlook has been shaped by a few noteworthy events. The war between the United States and Mexico caused by Texas declaring its independence in 1836, the 5th of May in 1862 when the French were defeated in the battle of Pueblo, and the Mexican Revolution, which began with the assassination of Francisco I. Madero in 1911 are the main holidays in the country. The Mexican revolution lasted six years and ended with the approval of a new Constitution in 1917, which was at that time considered to be one of the most advanced in the world. (Mexican Embassy)ReferencesEmbajada De Mexico En Dinamarca site provides answers to questions about Mexico (http://www.mexican-embassy.dk/history.html)Grammatica, J. (2006). A Close Look At Mexico. Retrieved April 23, 2006, from Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute web site: http://www.yale.eduNicol, J. & Taylor, S. (nd). Mexico. Retrieved April 23, 2006, from University of Texas atDallas, M.B.A. International Management Studies site:http://www.cyborlink.com/besite/mexico.htmWikipedia Online Encyclopedia site provides answers to questions about Mexico            (http://www.answers.com/topic/culture-of-mexico) Note: Francenette Monsalve is a gifted teacher in eastern Hillsborough County, Florida. She wrote this piece exclusively for CSMS Magazine. Also see: Discovering Costa Rica:   http://www.csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20060805I206

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