Dresses. © Marisa Burton 2018.

La Quinceañera: a celebration of budding womanhood

The transition from childhood to womanhood is a significant passage for adolescent girls in almost all cultures. In Mexico, it is marked with the celebration of the Quinceañera, or 15th Birthday. From a north-of-the-border viewpoint, it may be seen as a cross between Sweet Sixteen and a debutante’s coming out party. The celebration is a […]

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Aztec calendar stone

Mysteries of the Fifth Sun: the Aztec Calendar

-Valley of Anahuac, New Year’s Eve, 1507. Tenochtitlán, the great island city, capital of the Mexica empire, lies cloaked in darkness. An eerie silence pervades the vast ceremonial center — the Teocalli or Templo Mayor — spreading out over Moctezuma’s splendid palace, with its botanical gardens and well-stocked zoo, across the market places, canals, aqueducts, and within each of […]

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A Companion Guide to La Charreada

Mexico has its own version of the rodeo called la charreada. This basic guide is designed to enhance the enjoyment of the competition for those unfamiliar with Mexico’s national sport by offering a brief introduction to the traditional horsemanship skills that will be displayed by the charros (horsemen). The keyhole-shaped lienzo charro (arena) comprises two main areas. The first […]

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Piñata Images Copyright © 1999 María Elena. All Rights Reserved Worldwide

Piñatas boast deep historical roots

Breaking piñatas is not only a familiar element of many Mexican festivities, but a popular custom with deep historical roots. Some scholars link the practice with religious rituals of ancient Mesoamerica, while others trace it back to a Chinese custom associated with the start of the spring and the yearly agricultural cycle that was introduced to Europeans […]

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An altar de muertos dedicated to Lola Beltran © Daniel Wheeler, 2009

Mexico conjures spirits with picturesque ofrendas

Unique observances that exemplify the fusion of Mesoamerican and European cultures, particularly regarding religious practices, render Mexico’s celebration of los Dias de los Muertos as the most distinctive holiday on the nation’s calendar. Customs associated with this festive time of remembrance defy any strict formula, for the practices specific to each region vary considerably. Among […]

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