The People of Mexico
Submitted 5 years 8 months ago by CultureWhiz.
The people of Mexico are from a variety of ancestries, ethnic groups and cultures, making the region one of the most diverse in the world. Although most Mexicans identify as a mixed-race, the European side is still often considered superior, with efforts to promote European culture and values over indigenous ones. The specific composition of the population varies from indigenous through Mestizo to European, from urban to rural, from liberal to conservative. Mexicans have a strong love of the physical: food and drink, construction and design, sun and plants. Mexico was surprisingly liberal as an agricultural country, and now that the people are modernizing, the trend continues. Families and individuals share a rich public life, while pursuing advancement materially and emotionally.
Mexicans vary in appearance, largely from the north to the south. The average Mexican is Mestizo (a mix of European and indigenous). About 10% of Mexicans are white or Spanish, while 29% of Mexicans are purely indigenous. An autosomal DNA study by the American Journal of Human Genetics estimated that the average admixture of Mexicans is approximately 52% European, 45% Amerindian (indigenous), and 4% African. The investigators noted that the African admixture did not generally come from African slaves brought by Europeans, but was part of the genetic admixture of the colonists. A study in Mexico City found that its Mestizo population had the greatest variation in Latin America, with its Mestizos being either largely European or Amerindian rather than having a uniform admixture. The lack of a clear dividing line between white and mixed race is further blurred by the fact that there is little homogeneity among Mestizos, with the lighter skinned being associated with higher social class, power, wealth, and modernity. Being a moreno ("dark-skinned") is associated with Native American (Indian/Amerindian) origin with its inferior social class and implying submission.
However, the average Mexican in Mexico is light tan- to brown-skinned, with black or dark brown hair, and dark brown to black eyes. In the northern deserts, golden-skinned people have strong swarthy hair. In the south, much darker-skinned people look more tropical, like in neighboring Guatemala. Mexico's northern regions have the greatest European population and admixture. In the northwest, most of the relatively small indigenous communities remain isolated from the rest of the population. The northeast region, in which the indigenous population was eliminated by early European settlers, became the region with the highest proportion of Europeans during the Spanish colonial period. However, recent immigrants from southern Mexico have been changing its demographic trends. The populous center of the country has a mix that leans closer to the south. Additionally, Mexico has significant populations descending from Lebanon and other parts of the world.
Mustaches are traditionally popular in Mexico. Today, many Mexican men shave completely, or wear alternative styles of beard. Hair styles are often close-cropped, and include some shaving in younger men. Women sometimes wear braids. Skin colors vary from lighter people of primarily European descent, to dark people of "Indian" descent. Intermixing between Europeans and Native Americans began early in the colonial period and was extensive. The resulting people, known as Mestizos, make up large proportions in nearly all of Mexico. The part of the population descending from Indigenous people can share their hereditary short and thick body builds, and wide faces with prominent noses.
Mexican women tend to the senses, with vastly different styles according to socioeconomic status. In the traditional rural areas, women can be extremely reserved, taking care of the many children in the family and maintaining the home. In urban areas, by contrast, women dress stylishly, living independently in professional settings and trendy apartments. Mexican women often prepare food which can take significant time to make delicious.
Modern Mexican women often work in fields such as design, fashion, and art. They enjoy dining and drinking out on the town, visiting a series of destinations in a night. Dancing is popular, now often featuring a mix of local and imported sounds filtered through loud audio systems. Drinking is also popular, especially tequila and beer. Women struggle to find a balance with all the possibilities now open. More conservative women stay home or work in traditional fields such as food service and child care.
Mexican men are rugged and outgoing. Very hard-working, they often do hands-on work such as farming, ranching, construction, and car mechanics. Playing as hard as they work, Mexican men whoop it up with loud music, heavy drinking and eating, and a deep and wide assortment of entertainment. Men love to celebrate, and are also romantics, going to great lengths for the women in their lives. The downside of these preferences is a disproportionately high rate of health problems such as obesity and alcoholism.
Mexican men are making progress in the rapidly modernizing country. However, they also are still adjusting to the changing roles of women and families. In cities, men often do more artistic work such as design. Most musicians are men, from the regional folk groups to the Mariachis and today's DJs. Also, some men make a living in the illegal drug industry, which feeds immense and powerful gangs.
Gay men have historically been less welcome in Mexico, although certain urban areas are now seeing much wider acceptance.
Mexico operates through social relationships much more so than through rigidly formal systems. Relationships, as with other aspects of life in Mexico, have a strong traditional/modern divide, depending on location.
In more modern parts of Mexico, dating more closely resembles American patterns. Like-minded mates gather, talk, and flirt, exchanging mobile phone numbers. In conservative rural areas, men typically court women from their close social circles. A man may serenade a woman with a song. Her family may approve or disapprove of the relationship. Mexican men can very brazenly signal their interest to women, and in the course of a relationship can publicly show their affection. Couples often make out openly. However, with Catholic influence, sex is often seen as an activity reserved for marriage.
With less material wealth than in the neighboring US, Mexican extended families far more often live together. Children receive surnames from both their mothers' and fathers' sides, although they may only use their fathers' for everyday purposes. Compadres (godparents) and cuates (best friends) play critical supporting roles in a social network.
Relationships in border regions present special challenges. Sometimes the men of a family will be away for considerable amounts of time, working on the other side. Also, with the culture and money that they bring back, new clashes often arise with their more traditional relatives.
Same-sex marriages are partially recognized in Mexico.
Spanish is by far the predominant language, spoken by well over ninety percent of the population. Mexican Spanish resembles other variants, with a few grammatical and semantic fluctuations. American-influenced English is spoken commonly in the large cities, and along the border. Additionally, several of the diverse native languages remain in use among local populations, totaling over a million speakers.
Social Attitudes and Norms
Mexico has different and sometimes contradictory social divisions. There is a large rural-urban divide, with country people living much more traditional and conservative lives than their urban counterparts. There is also a vast North-Central-South divide. Northern Mexicans, Norteños, have cowboy lifestyles in the desert. The center of the country hosts the major cities, and features the most historic cultural elements, from politics to education. The poorer south has a more sizeable native population, with lives more closely resembling those in Central America.
Mexicans retain many customs and attitudes from older times, such as chivalry and bravery. However, the country is increasingly modernizing, with the new and the old coexisting and occasionally clashing. For example, some cities have rows of traditional cathedrals alongside bustling gay neighborhoods. Metropolitan Mexicans adopt many behaviors from American images, resulting in the fresa (yuppie) for example, speaking with borrowed slang and affectations. Mexicans tend to be highly patriotic, revering their country's rich heritages of culture, history, and natural geography.
Mexican food is famous globally for its distinctive flavors and emotions. While internationalized Mexican food mixes and adapts elements from across the entire country, authentic regional cuisine varies heavily, from the sparse preparations of beef and wheat in the north, to the lush moisture of fruits in the south. The most traditional cuisine comes from the state of Puebla, in the center of the country. Here, famous dishes such as mole poblano represent the nation.
Many ingredients from Mexico have risen to symbolic proportions. These include corn, chili peppers, tomato, beans, and chocolate. A huge number of important foods have their origins here. Mexicans eat lavishly, often spending an exorbitant amount on a feast. Eating takes time, and can be accompanied by music and dancing.
Cultural Beliefs: Mexican attitudes center around celebration. Whether celebrating their religion or sports or food, Mexicans traditionally live with colorful abandon. Big declarations, and bigger actions, make this heroic country exceptional.
Social life differs from the city to the countryside. In towns and villages, large and close-knit families live together. Neighbors commonly come over, almost belonging to the extended family. Men work, frequently in construction or other mechanical activities, while women cook and clean and tend to the children. However, in cities, people adopt more flexible ways of community life. Young professional often live together in small groups. Here, the office and home and trendy public meeting spots set the background. In any type of social life in Mexico, people bond strongly, sharing more closely than in other cultures.
With the heavy association with the American economy, many Mexican men cross the border, legally or illegally, to work. Some stay for extended periods, sending back remittances. Others who live near the border will commute for work and then return home to Mexico, where they may even reside with their family. All of these migrant workers serve as an important vehicle for cultural and economic ties between the two countries.