Descendants of the Aztecs and Mayas, Mexicans have a great pride in their heritage. They are known for their kindness and hospitality, artistic skills and courage. Mexicans have strong religious beliefs. The majority of the people are Catholic, however, they still hold on to their Aztec and Mayan roots. Because of this, many of the ancient pagan deities and rituals have been incorporated into the celebrations of the Catholic faith. But their festive spirit is perhaps the most important characteristic of the Mexican people. They enjoy sharing good times with family and friends. Every holiday is celebrated with passion and zest. And they welcome visitors to join in the fun.
The official language of Mexico is Spanish, but English is spoken by many as well, especially in tourist areas. In addition to these, more than 62 different Native American languages are also still spoken.
The majority of the Mexicans are Catholic, with other Christian religions following. Traditional Mesoamerican and other worldwide religions are also represented in smaller numbers.
Mexico's culture is a unique blend of native legends and traditions, Spanish influences, and artistic expressions, including music, stories and art. Remnants of their Aztec and Mayan ancestors can be found in the Mexican people's dress, paintings and music, both traditional and contemporary. Plus, most Mexicans are Catholic, so rituals and beliefs from the church are also ever present in daily life. There is a more relaxed sense of time in Mexico, and, while the siesta (afternoon break) is still observed in smaller towns, it is less common in big cities.
Generally, men will shake hands in greeting, while women will pat each other on the shoulder or forearm. Mexicans are great soccer fans! Their favorite soccer, or futbol (football), teams are the Guadalajara Chivas and the Aguilas del America. Mexico will enchant you with her vivid people, traditions, music, food and sense of fun!
Mexican cuisine is famous all over the world. But don't go expecting the fare you find on the menus of Mexican food chains across the US. "Real" Mexican food uses local staples such as corn, tomatoes, squashes, beans, peppers, cocoa, meats, seafood, cheese and a variety of herbs and spices. Delicious tropical fruits popular in the country include guava, mangoes, pineapple, bananas, pricky pear cactus fruit, and cherimoya. The different regions have each developed their own favorite recipes over the years, however, corn, beans and chili peppers are used across the country as the mainstays of the cuisine.
Corn is generally dried and ground, then used to make everything from drinks to entrees to desserts. Commonly, you'll find corn made into tortillas, which will accompany nearly every meal.
Chili peppers lend the cuisine its heat and spice. They not only add flavor to the dishes, they have become part of the national identity.
Some favorite dishes to look for while in Mexico include tamales, birria, pozole, fresh seafood cooked with spices and peppers, tacos, huaraches and machaca. Don't miss sampling atole, a corn-based drink, horchata, made with rice, and café de olla, coffee brewed with cinnamon and sugar.
Whatever your favorites are, dining in Mexico is sure to be a treat! Mexican cuisine is such an important part of the country's culture that has been named an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.