- Sean N. Bennett, RN, MSN - Assistant Professor - Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
- McKell Gunter, RN - BSN Student - Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
- Jenna Heath, RN - BSN Student - Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
- Susan Johnson, RN - BSN Student - Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
- Shelby S. Price, SN -RN Student- Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
- Candice Schwarting, RN - BSN Student - Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
- Samantha Topham, RN - BSN Student - Utah Valley University - Orem, Utah
Mexico is comprised of several different indigenous groups and has a very interesting background. Around about 1000 B.C., an indigenous group called the Olmecs settled parts of Veracruz and Tabasco. The Olmecs worshiped a jaguar god and spread rapidly throughout central and southern Mexico. There is no explanation as to why the Olmec civilization disappeared around 400 B.C. but much of their belief system and knowledge was woven into several future indigenous groups. During this time, human sacrifice was an important part of their culture. These groups developed many advances in mathematics, astronomy, and architecture.
Sometime after the Olmec civilization disappeared, the city of Teotihuacan was built. Teotihuacan was famous for its rise and fall of various tribes and empires. It is presumed that one of the original tribes of Teotihuacan is the Toltecs (Aztecs, 2009). The Toltecs were later overthrown by the Aztec Empire, which has left its mark on Mexican history forever. The Aztecs were able to influence the Mexican culture in many ways. The Aztec's believed strongly in hard work, being independent, and education. Education was required for all of the children in this society, regardless of gender or socioeconomic status. They also influenced the culture by their diet, their recreation and their arts and trade. Their diet consisted of many things including maize, beans, and squash and crickets, tomatoes and chilis were also added to this. Their influence is still shown in the diet of Mexico today. The Aztecs main recreation was a game similar to soccer, called Tlachtli. Many games were created from this one game of the Aztecs, such as soccer and baseball. The music and dance style of Mexico originated with the Aztecs. They also domesticated crops and raised animals as pets, such as the "Mexican Hairless" dog and the turkey bird. Several other miscellaneous things were also influenced by the Aztecs such as the mexican coat of arms, the Day of the Dead (November 1 and 2 every year), huipil clothiing and huarache footwear.
Teotihuacan was located in central Mexico, just north of where Mexico City is today. The ruins of Teotihuacan still exist today, and thousands of people from all over the world visit these ruins annually. What makes these ruins special is their history. These ruins were once religious temples used by various indigenous groups of Mexico (Aztecs, 2009). The temples were mainly used as a place of worship and sacrifice. The Aztecs worshiped hundreds of gods, particularly gods that pertained to agriculture.
Successful agriculture was very important to the Aztec Empire. Their agricultural skills helped them survive while other tribes failed. They were known particularly for cultivating food such as corn, beans, avocados and tomatoes (Aztecs, 2009). Mexico is still famous today for growing these items.
Later on in the beginning of the 15th century, the Aztec tribe expanded rapidly and obtained the largest empire in Mexico. The city abounded in wealth and was run by a powerful emperor. When Hernan Cortez arrived in 1519, he aspired to conquer the empire and civilization. He managed to overtake the empire with only 100 men and capture the emperor. After these events, Spain began to maintain complete control over Mexico (Mexico: History and Culture, 2008).
Although Spanish is widely spoken, Mexico does not have an official language. When Spain conquered Mexico, the indigenous people were forced to speak Spanish. However, more than 60 indigenous languages are still spoken today (Zimmermann, 2013). The Mexican people are very family oriented. They thrive on making others feel comfortable and welcome in their homes. They enjoy hosting parties and involving the entire extended family and close friends. The father is the dominant figure within the home and typically provides for the family.
The culture in Mexico can be subdivided into three different regions: Northern Mexico, Southern or Southeastern Mexico, and Central Mexico. The north was not very well populated until sometime within the middle of the twentieth century. The main population living here is small, indigenous populations and is regarded as a frontier culture except for the bigger cities like Monterrey that are more densely populated. Western and central Mexico are the regions with the most densely populated regions. In pre-Columbian times, this area was inhabited by highly developed Indian cultures. This area remains a major urban and industrial center still today. Southern Mexico is known for its low socioeconomic conditions, and has a tropical climate with many mountainous formations, cactus, and beautiful scenery.
Mexico is heavily influenced by Europe and the United States. The clothing of the people in urban areas reflects the current styles of other countries. In rural areas, it is common for a man to wear a sarape (large blanket-like cape) and boots. The women typically wear skirts, sleeveless tunics, and shawls. For special occasions, sombreros are used (Zimmermann, 2013). Mariachi style music is popular in Mexico and tells of the past as well as present rural living. The national dance of Mexico is called the Jarabe Tapatío or jarabe nacional is accompanied by Mariachi music. Roots go back to the state of Jalisco and a popular trademark of the jarabe Tapatío is the graceful movement of the women's skirts as they dance (Cashion, 2013).
The political system in Mexico influences the culture of the country. Mexico functions as a federal republic, which contains three branches of government (O,Neil, 2011). In a federal republic, the citizens vote for the President of their country.
The United Mexican States, as it is officially known, plays a role in the culture of the United States of America. A prime example is the Mexican holiday, Cinco De Mayo. Cinco De Mayo has become a bigger celebration in the US than it is in Mexico. Originally, it was a holiday that marked Puebla’s triumph over France during the Franco-Mexican war (Cinco, 2009). Puebla is a state in south-central Mexico and most Mexicans that live outside of Puebla do not celebrate Cinco De Mayo (Cinco, 2009). However, many members of the US celebrate Cinco De Mayo, particularly in areas with a high number of Mexican-Americans (Cinco, 2009).
Values and Norms
Latinos are a group oriented culture, with a strong emphasis placed on family. Family is a major source of one’s identity in this culture. Family is also expected to help provide protection against trials that life brings such as unemployment, poor health or being financially insecure. The unit of a family in the Latin-Mexico culture is limited to close family and friends, and those outside of this family unit are often slow to be trusted (Clutter & Zubleta, 2009). The family unit typically includes extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Familismo is the word that Latino’s use to express their intense loyalty to their family. Being financially support by family members is expected within this culture. Decisions made by a member of the family are to be for the best interest of the family, and are to be discussed with the family prior to making the decision (Cateret, 2011).
Within families generational hierarchy is typically present. The oldest male holds the greatest amount of power in the family unit, and may make decisions for others within the family. Latino men usually follow the ideal of being machismo, meaning they are expected to be the providers and maintain integrity for their family. Latino females, are often expected to show respect to their husband, and even demonstrate submissiveness when necessary. Latino women are responsible for teaching the children about their culture, and religion, as well as helping those in need within the family and community (Cateret, 2011).
Unlike the United States, in Latin Mexico people tend to accept and expect different status positions in society. Latins place a high importance on treating others with respect. “Respecto” in the Latin culture means that each person is supposed to respect and defer to a position of authority. Physicians are especially viewed as authority figures. Latino patients in the hospital may be hesitant to raise concerns or ask questions because they do not want to be viewed as being disrespectful (Cateret, 2011).
Latinos often use the word “fatalismo” to express their belief that there can be little done to alter your fate in life. In regards to healthcare Latino patients are less likely to get health screenings, or participate in aggressive treatments for a fatal disease. They often they accept their diagnosis or condition as their fate, or possibly a punishment (Cateret, 2011).
Latino’s often tend to treat time flexibly, and are not often punctual to appointments. Not being on time is socially acceptable within the Latino community. Latino culture tends to be more accepting of chaos and less orderly within their planning and social gatherings. Latino’s tend to be more relationship oriented, whereas American’s may be viewed as task or time oriented. They like to be greeted and cared for with gestures such as handshakes or a touch on the shoulder (Cateret, 2011).
Traditions, Beliefs and Attitudes
The traditions of the Mexican culture is diverse, originating from the Mayan civilization, Aztec rituals, and European conquests (don Quijote, 2015). Each region and community have their specific traditions, celebrations, and practices. Many traditions, beliefs, and attitudes come from family traditions and the Roman Catholic Church, as these are the fundamental units of many people's lives.
The celebration known as 'La Quinceañera' (keen-say-ah-NYAIR-ah) is widely practiced in Mexican culture (don Quijote, 2015). This popular celebration is about the transition from childhood to maturity and womanhood on a girl's fifteenth birthday. The event is a religious and social event highlighting the importance of family and society in the lives of young people (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015). It begins with a mass attended by the young woman's parents and godparents, followed by a reception with family and relatives.
Los Poasadas (poh-sah-duh) is a holiday tradition in Mexico based off religious beliefs. Traditional posadas, a word meaning lodges or inns in Spanish, are held over nine days by communities each year from December 16 through December 24 (National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d.). This involves re-enacting the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Mexicans spend the evening going door to door with candles and singing seeking shelter at every house. The carolers enter the house to find a feast which begins with traditional cuisine of the season, including tamales and ponche (National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d.).
Another popular Mexican custom and tradition is the piñatas (pee-nyah-tahs). They are paper mâché containers filled with candy used for birthday parties and during 'Los Posadas.' The tradition involves children and also adults to be blindfolded and take turns hitting it with a stick in attempt to break it. Piñatas can be of any shape, or look like any character or theme from popular culture. The breaking of the piñata is accompanied with this jingle, “Dale, dale, dale, no pierdas el tiro, porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino," meaning “Hit it, hit it, hit it, don’t lose your aim, because if you lose your aim you’ll miss the road” (National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d.).
Mexico is one of the eight countries in the world where Bullfighting is a legal sport (don Quijote, 2015). Besides Spain, Mexico has the most bullfighting rings and high quality bullfighters, making it a very popular tradition in Mexico. Many religious festivities are linked to this sport, but not everyone is on board with the idea of bullfighting. Some people believe it is rich in tradition, while others feel it should be abolished because of animal cruelty and danger.
Other traditions in Mexico revolve around family parties, religious events and holidays, and country celebrations.
The Mexican constitution promises the separation of church and state, meaning there is no official religion for Mexico. According to the CDC, Christianity is the dominant religion in Mexico, while non-Christian religions are almost non-existent. Roman Catholicism is the largest Christian religion found in Mexico, with over 90% of its citizens identifying as Catholic (“Promoting”, 2012). About 6% of the population is members of the Protestant faith, and that number is growing due to the work of the Protestant missionaries (“Promoting”, 2012).
Catholicism was introduced to the Mexican Indians in the 1500s when Hernan Cortes began to conquer Mexico (Lenchel, 2000). The Mexican Indians were forced to join the Catholic Church. In fact, the Spanish conquistadors coerced the Mexican Indians into destroying their religious idols and erecting crosses and shrines to the Virgin Mary in place of their idols (Lenchel, 2000). The Spanish continued to rule Mexico for over three centuries. However, when Mexico regained its independence, it did not revert to its old form of religion. Instead, Catholicism stayed and has become a part of the culture of Mexico (Lenchel, 2000).
The Catholic Church is lead by the Bishop of Rome, also called the Pope. Catholics believe in the Holy Trinity, which is made up of God the father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. Catholics worship God, and they believe that they receive revelation through God the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church believes it is the only true church and that it is necessary for salvation (Brom, 2004).
The Virgin Mary is also extremely important and very sacred in the Catholic religion. However, contrary to popular belief, Catholics do not worship Mary (Brom, 2004). They do pray to Mary, as she is the mother of God, and those who misunderstand the beliefs of the Catholic Church often confuse this with worship (Brom, 2004).
In Mexico, the Virgin Mary is referred to as “Our Lady Guadalupe” (Willey, 2015). The Basilica of Guadalupe is the shrine for the Virgin Mary, which is located in Mexico City. The Mexican members of the Catholic Church make pilgrimages to the Basilica of Guadalupe in order to receive blessings, answers to prayers, or help from God (Willey, 2015).
Dia de los Muertos is a holiday that takes place on November 1st and originated in Mexico, though it is celebrated in other parts of the world as well (Sue, N.D.). The holiday came from the Catholic holiday called “All Saints Day”, which celebrates the lives of the Saints of the Catholic Church. Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of friends and families who are deceased (Sue, N.D.). This holiday embraces the Catholic belief that the deceased will live in heaven, and it chooses to focus on life rather than death (Sue, N.D.). Festivities include food, drink, stories and participating in activities that were once enjoyed by the dead. Additionally, family and friends may decorate the graves of those who have passed (Sue, N.D.). Skulls and skeletons are the symbols for Dia de los Muertos, and can be seen everywhere on the holiday.
Sense of Self and Space
Hispanics and those of a Mexican culture view sense of space closely compared with most other cultures. Personal space is considered less than an arm’s length distance for Hispanics. In comparison, Americans view personal space as an arms length. In Mexican culture, greetings are generally a less firm handshake, hug, or a kiss on the cheek in relation to American culture in which it would be a firm handshake or wave. Mexicans generally like to be close to others and will often pick a spot directly next to someone in a public setting even if there are plenty of seats farther away. This is considered a natural and friendly thing for those of Mexican culture and to choose a seat further away by yourself could be considered inconsiderate or rude. Those of Mexican culture also tend to congregate in groups.
Members of the Mexican culture also put a great deal of value on family space. They consider the home as a refuge from the chaos and uncertainty of life and where they can feel control. They will do almost anything to protect that space.
This close knit group mentality also influences how they view themselves and their sense of self. People from Mexico generally think of themselves as a part of a group, not individually. This causes them to act in a group and have very much of a 'group mentallity.' They depend of this group for direction and survival. They often act individually depending on the context of the group they are in and what is required of that group. For example if they are in a home, they act as a family and while they are at school, they act as students. They very much see themselves as a group and have different group identities depending on the situation.
Communication Style and Language
Spanish control in the sixteenth century in Mexico led to Spanish being the primary and official language of Latinos in Mexico. One-hundred Native American languages can still be found in Mexico, but no single alternative language prevails over Spanish (Kwintessential, 2014). Most of these Native American languages are endangered. Eighty-percent of those who speak another language in Mexico, also speak Spanish as well. One of the most common Native American languages is Nahuatl (Na-wa-tel). Nahuatl is the primary language of more than one million Latino Mexicans. The most common language spoken among the Latins that is not indigenous to Mexico is English. 12.9% of Latinos in Mexico can speak English (Kwintessential, 2014).
Latinos gain a better understanding of one another by using and interpreting nonverbal communication cues. These cues include facial expressions, physical touch, voice sounds, emotional appearance, and smell (Lopez, 2009). Latinos often participate in physical connection to communicate. Hugs and kisses are commonly used by females to greet others. Men also participate in hugging to show a sign of affection. Often times “abrazo, (a-bra-zo)” which means hug is used at the end of a business letter. Touch such as putting a hand on a shoulder, or hand can signify understanding and care. Body and hand movement is another important aspect of communication in the Latino culture. Many Latinos find it necessary to use their hands to communicate in order to effectively communicate a message (Lopez, 2009). Latinos will often use certain types of colon or perfume to convey their personality (Lopez, 2009).
Respect is a key component in Latino culture and is typically shown through conversations with one another. Turn-taking in conversation is a very important concept for Latino children. The children are typically given very strict guidelines for how to speak with an adult. Interrupting adult conversations is rarely tolerated (Rosado, 2005). Latinos may use indirect eye contact during conversation to show respect, and direct eye contact to indicate defiance (Rosado, 2005).
Food and Feeding Habits
The food in Mexico comes from a rich tradition, dating back hundreds and thousands of years to the Aztec Empire. Many of the staples of the Aztec diet are still familiar in Mexico today, including corn, beans, avocados, squash, chilies, and tomatoes (Aztec History, 2015). Other foods, including chicken, beef and pork, cheese, garlic and onions, and rice come from Spanish and other European influences.
In the Mexican Culture, eating habits vary from those of American Culture. In America, people tend to eat around their work schedules, while in Mexico, people work around their eating schedules. Because of Spanish influence, Mexicans eat on somewhat of a delayed schedule compared to the United States (Ixtapa Mexican Restuarant & Cantina, 2012). For example:
Breakfast is usually eaten between 7 a.m and 10 a.m. This meal can range from a cup of coffee to a bigger meal called Huevos Rancheros (WEH-vohs-ran-"CHAIR"-ohs). This includes corn tortillas filled with fried eggs and a sauce of chili, tomato & onion. Other popular breakfast items are sweet breads, tropical fruits, toast, granola and yogurt.
Lunch is served between 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., and it is the biggest meal of the day. Lunch typically consists of an appetizer, a soup or salad and the main course: seafood, meat or poulty, rice and/ or beans and of course some hot tortillas (Ixtapa Mexican Restuarant & Cantina, 2012). This meal is a leisurely meal, and people tend to converse during and after eating.
Dinner is eaten between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. This is a lighter meal consisting of soup or tacos When going out to eat in Mexico, proper tipping is 15% of the bill. You are considered rude and will anger the waiters if you tip anything less.
Food in Mexico plays a role in almost all celebrations, whether it is a family party or national holiday (Ixtapa Mexican Restuarant & Cantina, 2012).
Time consciousness is how a person or culture relates to and thinks about time or the concept of time. Mexican culture deals with time in a very different way than many other cultures. In regards to time, those of Mexican culture tend to think about the present and put more emphasis on the here and now rather than on the future. This is very different than American culture, in which the focus is generally on the future and on how we can prepare for it. Americans rarely ‘stop and smell the roses,’ while it is a daily occurrence for Mexicans. In Mexico, they just want to enjoy the moment and not worry about the past or the future. Because of this mindset, they put a much bigger focus on short term goals and don’t generally put great importance on the long term. They also tend to avoid firm deadlines and timelines for tasks. This is especially true when it comes to interpersonal interactions and relationships.
Mexicans also tend to put less of an emphasis on the concept of time itself than those from other cultures. The idea of time is not really that important in this culture. They put a bigger focus on personal interactions than on timelines. As in many Hispanic cultures, in Mexico, it is considered culturally acceptable to be late and is almost considered the norm. This is especially true if one gets caught up in a social interaction such as talking with friends or family prior to the appointment or event. This is not considered rude or disrespectful as it might be in other cultures; it is just an example of how they spend their time focusing on the moment and interpersonal interactions and the lack of importance on putting a strict timeline on things. Those of the Mexican culture have a very flexible idea of time and promptness.
Relationships and Social Organization
Family is the most important social group in the Mexican culture, including immediate and extended family. Particularly among the urban area, households may consist of parents, children, grandparents and sometimes other relatives such as aunts, uncles and cousins. If financially able to live separately, many extended families in the Mexican culture choose to live in close proximity of one another. Because family is so important in the Mexican culture, the needs of the family always come before the needs of other individuals and loyalty is expected between family members.
Within the household, women are seen as the caretakers of the family. They hold the family together, pass knowledge on to the children, and keep cultural and family traditions. Men are viewed as the jefe (he-fe) de familia, meaning the chief of the family. They are the authoritarian of the family. The Mexican culture allows for the choice of a marriage partner. Although many seek a partner for love, most in the Mexican culture feel it just as important to seek a partner that will get along with their family. Many times both families will come together if able. When a family is dispersed they seek opportunities to gather for special occasions, religious occasions, or meals on the weekends.
The Catholic religion is a big part of Mexican culture and relationships are formed through godfathers known as padrino (pa·dri·no) and godmothers, known as Madrina (ma-dri-na) for their children. Once the individual is a godfather or godmother they are considered part of the family and often will attend family gatherings. The average number of children per household is just over two.
Education and Learning
Mexico has almost reached its goal in making educational facilities available for all school aged children. Educational failure is still prevalent in Mexico even with these educational advancements and efforts by educators. There is a very large dropout rate of millions of children normally occurring after primary or secondary school. The areas that have higher rates of illiteracy tend to be in many rural communities, especially where Indigenous people that speak- Spanish as a second language live. These areas are also more poverty ridden, in these settings children tend to not finish school but work and help support their families. In rural Mexico, it is also harder to access educational opportunities and facilities.
The federal government pays for textbooks for those students in grades 1-6, and those students in 7-12 grade pay for their own text books. The grading scale in Mexico is 1 to 10. Students who score less than a 6 on the national examination given at the end of the school year, must repeat that same grade. Teachers give 5 tests a year that are developed locally, but cover the national curriculum. These tests are given to all grades. In Mexico, school attendance is only required for students until they are 14 years old. Secondary school which includes 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, has only been required since 1993. There are two tracks for college study that students will choose from when they enter into high school, a technical career, or a business track.
In Mexico, students are in school for 4 hours a day. In some areas, the students go to work first, then they attend school after. The students have a patriotic day where they display the flag and sing the national anthem, this usually occurs on Mondays. They have a recesses in the mid-morning. This consists of eating snacks and being able to play outside. The teacher for Mexican students is respected by the students, and parents of the students expect the teacher to make the best decisions for their children.
Work Habits and Practices
Salaries in Mexico tend to be a lot lower than salaries in the US or Western Europe. Different salaries depend on the job and the qualifications of the workers. These salary ranges in US dollars show a rough impression of salaries in Mexico City:
Unqualified workers or minimum salary: US $300-500 a month
University graduates: US $1,000-2,000 a month
Mid-level business position with 3-10 years’ work experience: US $1,500-3,000 a month
Directorial positions: US $3,000-10,000 a month
Executive positions or VP/ president level: US $10,000 and more
In Mexico salaries are normally paid every 15 days. Mexican law says that every employee is entitled to a yearly bonus known as Aguinaldo. This is also known as a Christmas bonus.
Working hours in Mexico depend on your job, most office hours run from 8am to 6 pm. Working middle class tend to have longer hours and can sometimes go until 7pm or later. Mexicans tend to take longer lunch breaks called "siesta's" (sēˈestə). This can take 1 hour to 3 hours for a lunch break. "Siesta's" are becoming less popular and most modern work environments are now similar to those of Western countries.
Manufacturing and assembly plants are the largest industries in Mexico. Other major industries include: chemicals, clothing, consumer durables, food and beverages, iron and steel, mining, motor vehicles, petroleum, textiles, tobacco, and tourism. There is a lot of jobs that are needed to be filled in Mexico, with most applicants being under qualified and have a lack of experience. The top ten positions that are most difficult to fill are: technician, sales representative, skilled trade’s workers, engineer, administrative assistant, driver, production operator, laborer, accounting and finance staff, and manager/executive. They are also in high demand for health care workers with only 19 nurses for every 10,000 residents far below the World, Health Organization’s recommendation of 84.
Home remedies are a very common practice within the Mexican culture and their healthcare. Traditional medicine in Mexico is based around the balance of four humors (blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile) and the balance of hot and cold. One becomes sick if they are out of balance. To correct the balance one can consume certain foods or herbs. Some foods that are considered “cold” are; beans, corn, citrus, and inexpensive meat such as goat, chicken, and rabbit. Chili, wheat, and expensive meats such as beef, fish, and mutton are all considered “Hot.” Medications can be taken as well and are also considered “hot” or “cold.” For instance, penicillin is considered a “hot” medication while vitamin C a “cold” remedy. “Cold” diseases are commonly sicknesses that are not visible to the eye; earaches, stomach cramps, and the common cold. “Hot” diseases are usually more visible, such as, vomiting, sore red throat, stomach ulcers.
Many in the Mexican culture believe in yerberos (yār·bāˑ·rōs), also known as herbalists, and curanderos (kuran’deros), which are native healers or shamans. Shamans are regarded as having access to, and are able to influence, both the good and evil spirits that are believed to be the cause or cure of a disease.
Supernatural powers are also believed to cause disease. A well-known supernatural power is the mal de ojo, which is translated as the evil eye. This supernatural power is believed to be caused when one looks at another with envy. It is believed to cause injury or bad luck. Diseases caused by supernatural forces cannot be cured with anything non-supernatural. Therefore modern medicine cannot be used and native healers must be involved.
Medication in Mexico is not expensive and does not require a prescription from a physician. This increases the ability for home remedies and self-care. The Mexican population is used to getting common medications, such as antibiotics, at their local farmacia without seeing a doctor or healer first. Many Mexicans residing within the United States will travel to Mexico to buy their medications at a lower price.
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