Holiday Traditions of Sending Gifts to Mexico
December 1, every six years
Sending gifts to Mexico or any country other than one's own can raise difficult questions. How do you know what to send? How do you know when to send it, or if your gift is appropriate for the holiday in question? The stunning array of global holidays and gifting traditions just goes to show that everyone loves gifts. However, even when one has kindness in their heart, it is imperative to remember when dealing with another culture that there may be important differences in the way one gives gifts. One should strive to become familiar with the meanings behind holidays and gifts in every culture, so that when the time comes to honor a friend or family member from a different region, one can be sure to send a gift with the appropriate and intended message. Sending the perfect gifts to Mexico can be a challenge if one isn't familiar with the holidays and how they're celebrated.
Lined with stunning beaches, renowned for verdant mangrove swamps and exotic jungles, and overflowing with metropolitan, fun-loving cities, Mexico is a breath-taking jewel. Given its fascinating history, struggles for independence, and reputation for relaxing resorts, mouthwatering local delicacies, edge-of-your-seat politics, and stunning natural vistas, it can be said that Mexico has it all. Mexicans are possessed of a strong pride for their country and themselves; one can see their love for freedom in their numerous politically motivated holidays, and experience their generosity and festive spirit in Mexico's open arms.
When it's time to send a gift to Mexico for a holiday or to repay someone's generosity or hospitality, it is crucial to understand the following guidelines for gift-giving etiquette. First, never give gifts of silver in Mexico; the Mexican people are quite proud of their own silver which is abundant and prized all over the world. Second, while the Mexican people love colorful flowers, certain colors have important meanings; do not send yellow or red flowers, the former symbolize death and the latter are said to cast spells. Refrain from inquiring directly about what someone might wish to be given; this is considered rude and in poor taste - if you take the time to get to know your recipient, you will not have to ask what they want. Finally, when you're invited to someone's home in Mexico, there is no obligation to bring a gift, but one is always welcome. It's the perfect time to present your host with a Gourmet Gift, Wine Gift, Flowers, or Tea-Coffee Gift. If you know there will be children present, it's also a good idea to make sure to pick up something for them as well; Sweets, Chocolate Gifts, and Balloons are perfect choices for children anytime.
In Mexico's business world, it is typically not obligatory to bring a gift when first meeting a business associate, but a small token is acceptable as a gesture of good will. It is often considered a good idea to offer to pay for a meal gauge your associate's interests; during this time, it is important not to directly inquire about what your associate might want as this will cause discomfort. It is polite not to go overboard when purchasing a gift for a business associate; Mexicans are sensitive about the cost of a gift, and an overly expensive one will reek of a bribe or cause embarrassment. Regardless of the occasion, however, one can hardly ever go wrong with a Gourmet Gift, Wine Gift, or Tea-Coffee Gift in the world of business.
Each month's calendar page is peppered with holidays in Mexico, so it's no secret that Mexicans love to celebrate their national pride, their religious beliefs, and even each other. Mexican culture - a fascinating blend of Spanish and Aztec influence, indigenous and imported religions, and the long struggle to gain independence - has resulted in a proud, fun-loving, and generous people who love to give as much as they love to receive. No matter what the holiday - weddings, birthdays, New Year's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, or Christmas - you are welcome to celebrate with the people of Mexico; they will accept your Gourmet Gifts, Wine Gifts, Tea-Coffee Gifts, Flowers, and Fruit Baskets with gratitude and return your kindness.
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Most Celebrated National Holidays
December 1, every six years - Change of Federal Government
(Transmision del Poder Ejecutivo Federal)
Change of Federal Government (Transmision del Poder Ejecutivo Federal) - December 1, every six years
This holiday celebrates the swearing in of the newly elected Mexican President every six years. This is time when Mexicans take pride in their country and government, and during which Mexicans ponder the struggles their country has endured to achieve stability. This is a statutory holiday so everyone celebrates with a paid day off from work, or a day off from school, and enjoys family time together.
November 1 - All Saints' Day
(Dia Todos los Santos)
All Saints' Day (Dia Todos los Santos) - November 1.
All Saints Day was originally set aside to honor all the saints of the church, both known and unknown. The holiday's exact origins are unclear, though Eastern Orthodoxy claims the holiday began when Pope Boniface dedicated the Pantheon in Rome. Later, during the reign of Pope Gregory III, the scope of the holiday was expanded to include honor for all martyrs in addition to saints. In Mexico, the holiday has become a day to honor the dead who were young and unmarried. Many celebrate this day by attending Mass, decorating the grave sites of lost loved ones, with candle light vigils and offerings of food and flowers.
December 25 - Christmas
Christmas (Navidad) - December 25.
In Mexico, Christmas is perhaps one of the most-anticipated celebrations both for people of the Christian faith as well as secular celebrants. The holiday commemorates the birth of Jesus, although the date originally corresponded to the Pagan holiday of Yule. These days, many people from a variety of faiths celebrate the spirit of peace, joy, and togetherness that Christmas connotes. Christmas activities in Mexico include neighborhood re-enactments of the story of Jesus' birth for the ten days leading up to Christmas, decorating - especially with the nativity scene, caroling, feasting, and praying. Many people spend this holiday with family members, with whom they exchange gifts and cards. During the re-enactments, it is customary to have pinatas for the children. Christmas Day itself is reserved for religious observances. Gifts are finally exchanged on January 6, the Day of the Wise Men, and when children wake up on that day they find a sock or stocking filled with small gifts and chocolates on their bed or somewhere else in the house. The delivery of these gifts is attributed to the Magi who honored Jesus with gifts.
May 1 - Labor Day
(Dia de Trabajo)
Labor Day (Dia de Trabajo) - May 1.
Labor Day, a holiday celebrated around the world, honors the sacrifices and struggles of the Mexican laborer, and commemorates the success of the Mexican Labor Movement. Workers celebrate with a day off; families come together for feasts and barbecues; and some take the chance to visit family and friends, to play or watch sports, and to enjoy other hobbies and fun activities. Sometimes, if there is a particularly pressing Labor issue at the time of the holiday, laborers will use this date to arrange protests and political activities to remind the people in power of the strength of Mexico's laborers.
May 5 - Fifth of May
(Cinco de Mayo)
Fifth of May (Cinco de Mayo) - May 5.
Ironically, this celebration is not an 'official' one, but it is perhaps the most well-known of all the Mexican holidays. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army's victory over French forces in the city of Puebla, even though the French were better equipped and outnumbered the Mexicans. Celebration of this holiday used to be most common in Puebla, where the events occurred, but has since spread throughout the rest of the country as well as the United States (since it has been erroneously connected with Mexican Independence Day there). Celebrations of Cinco de Mayo are festive and full of national pride; each city holds parades, fairs with rides for the children, music and dancing, delicious food and drink, and even re-enactments of the famous battle.
May 10 - Mother's Day
(Dia de las Madres)
Mother's Day (Dia de las Madres) - May 10.
Mother's day is an international holiday that celebrates motherhood and maternal figures. On this holiday in Mexico, there is a special Mass held at church dedicated to all the mothers. Grateful children hand-make charming gifts and cards for their mothers, serve them a breakfast of tamales and atole in bed, and give them the day off by helping with chores. Older children celebrate by arriving to visit the night before, and often treat their mothers to a special brunch or dinner. Spouses make sure to honor their wives and the mothers of their children with affection and lavish gifts.
Third Sunday of June - Father's Day
(Dia del Padre)
Father's Day (Dia del Padre) - Third Sunday of June.
Father's day is celebrated to honor fathers, fatherhood, and paternal figures. On this special day in Mexico, devoted children offer up Dad - related gifts and home-made cards for their fathers, serve them breakfast in bed, and help with chores around the house. Adult children may celebrate by treating their fathers to a special brunch or dinner, and spouses make sure to honor their husbands and the fathers of their children with affection and endearing gifts. Many Dads participate in a 21 KM race that takes place in Mexico City each year on Father's Day called Bosque de Tlalpan.
September 16 - Independence Day
(Dia de Independencia)
Independence Day (Dia de Independencia) - September 16.
On this date in 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest from Dolores (a village in Guanajuato), called the townspeople together with the sound of the church bell. Once they were gathered, he inspired them to rebel against the Spanish Monarchy and claim their independence. The struggle raged on until 1821, but its beginning is celebrated in town squares throughout the country. Celebrants decorate with the colors of the Mexican flag (green, red, and white) and display the flag prominently. The bell Hidalgo originally rang has since been moved to the capital, and the President of Mexico rings it to the cheers of the people to commemorate the day. People eat a pork and hominy soup known as pozole as well as foods that contain the colors of the Mexican flag such as chiles en nogada.
November 2 - All Souls' Day
(Dia de los Fieles Difuntos)
All Souls' Day (Dia de los Fieles Difuntos) - November 2.
This day is celebrated to commemorate those faithful married adults (over the age of 18) who have died; although it is primarily a Catholic holiday, some members of the Anglican and Protestant churches have adopted its celebration as well. The holiday is observed specifically for those of the faithful who, because of venial sins, have not yet achieved the vision of heaven. Prayers and ceremonies carried out by the living are said to help cleanse these souls and send them quickly to their respite in heaven. Mexicans do not have the day off on this day, but they do take the time to attend religious rites, visit cemeteries and decorate the grave sites of loved ones, hold candle light vigils, and make offerings of flowers and food.
November 20 - Revolution Day
(Dia de la Revolucion)
Revolution Day (Dia de la Revolucion) - November 20.
This holiday commemorates the onset of Mexico's Constitutional struggles. On this date in 1910, Francisco Madero made his way out of prison; announced that the electoral process of the day was corrupt; and declared war against General Porfirio Diaz (under whose 34 year reign Mexico had prospered, but its poor had gained little). After a decade of struggle, the people of Mexico won a victory for their chosen method of government and instituted its Constitution. Today, people in Mexico celebrate with a day off from school and work, festive parades, and families gather for great feasts.
January 1 - New Year's Day
New Year's Day (Ano Nuevo) - January 1.
In Mexico many people actually ring in the new calendar year on New Year's Eve; families gather for a late night dinner, and they throw huge midnight celebrations; eat, drink, and act merry. They wait for midnight on the clock to cheer, make noise, and welcome the opportunity of a new year. Those looking for love wear red underwear on New Year's Eve, hoping to increase their luck in love; those who are looking for luck in money wear yellow underwear. Many eat a dozen grapes for prosperity in the upcoming year, and make a wish while eating them. Cities throw big celebrations that include fireworks' displays, people often serve and indulge in a wide variety of foods and spirits, and take the time to rest the following day.
February 5 - Constitution Day
(Dia de la Constitucion)
Constitution Day (Dia de la Constitucion) - February 5.
This holiday commemorates the same date in 1917 when the Mexican Constitutional Congress adopted the Constitution of Mexico, completing its struggle to become a democracy. Upon adoption of the Constitution, Venustiano Carranza became the first official President of Mexico. Celebrants show their national pride on this day with regional festivals and street celebrations complete with music, parades, dancing, colorful decorations, and delicious foods.
February 14 - Valentine's Day
(Dia de San Valentin)
Valentine's Day (Dia de San Valentin) - February 14.
Popular sources report that Valentine's Day began in pagan times and is based on Lupercalia, a fertility rite traditionally held on February 13th-15th; other sources connect this day to St. Valentine, a Christian martyr. All sources agree that Geoffrey Chaucer's poem Parlement of Foules originally connected the celebration with lovers in 1382. In Mexico, this day is also called Dia del Amor y Amistad, The Day of Love and Friendship, and it is essentially regarded as festival that celebrates love between both lovers and individuals. People wish 'Happy Valentine's Day' to parents, teachers, siblings, friends, and any other special person in their lives. Though there are various traditions and customs associated with the festival, the most popular way of celebrating Valentine's Day in Mexico is by expressing love to sweethearts and dear ones with an exchange of gifts. The restaurants are thronged with lovers having romantic dinners and the streets are filled with balloon and flower vendors so anyone can pick out last minute gifts. The most common Valentine's Day gifts are chocolates, fresh flowers, wine and cards.
February 24 - Flag Day
(Dia de la Bandera)
Flag Day (Dia de la Bandera) - February 24.
Flag Day in Mexico is yet another day during which the Mexicans' pride for the nation rings loud and clear. This day, although celebrated on February 24 and not implemented until 1937, commemorates the first time the Mexican flag was honored with the Pledge of Allegiance spoken by General Vicente Guerrero on March 12, 1821. Nowadays, this is an exciting holiday full of patriotic music, festive parades, political speeches, fireworks displays, and, of course, plenty of delicious food.
March 21 - Benito Juarez's Birthday
(Natalicio de Benito Juarez)
Benito Juarez's Birthday (Natalicio de Benito Juarez) - March 21.
As its name suggests, this holiday commemorates the birth date of Benito Juarez, former Mexican President who born in 1806. Mexicans revere Juarez, who served five terms, for his excellent leadership and liberal policies; he balked the occupation of the French, is credited with the restoration of the Mexican Republic, and brought Mexican politics into the modern day with such policies as separation of church and state; free, obligatory education; and equal rights for indigenous people. Today, Mexicans celebrate this progressive political hero with a day off from work; people often gather to listen to modern-day politicians give speeches in remembrance of Juarez.