¡Mis Reinas! ¡La hora ha llegado! ¡El orgullo mexicano está presente! Today, we are talking about the 10 most fun things about belonging to a Mexican family. If you happened to see the movie Coco and cried like I did when the Disney theme song played to the tune of mariachis, then you know what I mean about orgullo mexicano.
Bueno pues, being Mexican has so many cultural aspects to it and even more differences depending on what region you’re from, whether you were born and raised in Mexico, if you moved to the United States as a child, or even if you were born Mexican American. Within those subgroups, there may be some subtle cultural differences but one thing unites us; we all have Mexican blood running through our veins y el nopal en la frente!
What it means to belong to a Mexican family:
1) We typically come from very large families and we casually add to them based on matching last names. Have you ever noticed that when we meet people with the same last name, we address them as part of our family? When a Garcia meets another Garcia, whether or not they’re really primos, they call each other “primo.” We feel an instant connection because we value the family bond and commonality that much.
2) A large part of being Mexican is our passion and that goes into how we communicate with each other. Our speech is like a dance. We use our hands, and we use our pitch and tone to get our point across. When I was growing up, sometimes my friends thought that family members were arguing or fighting because there were a lot of hand movements happening and loud voices that could be heard across the room. On top of that, words were interchangeable depending on how they were being used so that made for a lot of confused gringo friends. But speaking of dance…
3) We love to dance! One of my favorite Christmas memories was when my entire family came to our house even including fulanita who had the same last name but wasn’t really a relative. That day, out of the blue, someone started playing a cumbia on the record player and my parents, without hesitation, moved the sofas out of the way so everyone could dance. When you belong to a Mexican family, you can bet that almost every time you get together, there will be dancing. We don’t wait for a boda or a quinceañera to get our dancing shoes on, we live in them!
4) Loteria is our jam. Some kids grew up playing Monopoly or Chutes and Ladders, but in our family, we played Loteria. I remember playing with my abuelita y mis tias y primos with a bag of beans and a bag of mini chocolates for the prizes. Oh how I couldn’t wait for them to say, “El catrin! La botella! La dama!” Every time I got closer to a bingo, I got closer to a nice mini bite of chocolate or at times a quarter. Even today, I love playing loteria.
5) So you may have heard of “the chancla” and I’m here to tell you that it’s not a myth. Ok, so you may be thinking, “what’s so fun about getting the chancla?” Bueno, reinas while it may not be the most “fun” thing about belonging to a Mexican family, you can bet that it was something you shared with your friends, no? Talk to any Mexican and they will tell you they know exactly what it means to get the chancla and that, I guarantee will cause a lot of laughs among you. These chanclas are not just made for walking, verdad?
6) Tortillas to a Mexican is like pizza to an American…but better. Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the U.S. and you can travel almost anywhere and find a pizza joint nearby but for Mexicans, our staple is the tortilla. Tortillas are usually used in every meal; for breakfast with our huevos con chorizo, at lunch with our quesadilla con nopalitos and even at dinner with our enchiladas! Tortillas are tasty and require few ingredients to make but making the best tortilla, well that is a whole different story.
7) We are such an affectionate people. Being a part of a Mexican family means that you usually greet everyone with a kiss on the cheek and a huge hug. As a child, it meant that your Tia Maru would pinch your cheeks until they turned red and then she would practically suffocate you in her bosom. Mexican families are huggers. We hug, we kiss, we cry when our favorite soccer team loses and we hug each other again. It’s a part of the closeness we create with one another…it’s our community and our family.
8) Music defines and sets the mood for a lot of what we do. Being brought up in a Mexican family meant that your weekends were spent cleaning your room from the moment you woke up and heard your mom playing Vicente Fernandez in the kitchen. Orale! A limpiar! But if it was Luis Miguel, you knew it wasn’t about cleaning but perhaps cooking. We like to have soundtracks that change around with what we’re doing to set the mood. From Luis Miguel to Mana or Alejandro Fernandez, there is always music playing in a Mexican household.
9) Did I mention the food….. we love good food and lots of it! Food is at the very fiber of what brings our families together and it’s included in every size gathering. In my family, it usually includes both of my parents; Papa doing everything on the grill and Mama in the kitchen. I remember days in my neighborhood where I could smell the chile, spices, and meats cooking a block away from the house. Food unites people and for us, it’s a definitive way to show love. It’s a big part of who we are.
10) We love our families as much as we love food. As much as we love food…y n’ombre, we really love food….but we love our families much more. For me, being part of a Mexican family is the ultimate honor because it means you belong to a family unit with a set of core values where family always comes first. It gives you the security of belonging and a safety of knowing you can always come home, you are welcome, it’s where you belong.
Reinas, it is such an honor to be a part of your family and to share in the Mexican traditions that make us unlike any other. Love each other in every possible way and keep our core Mexican values alive in all you do from generation to generation.