Mexico’s Intangible Cultural Heritage
The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), besides maintaining a list of World Heritage Sites, also keeps a list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. These are traditions or living expressions which are passed down through generations in the form of oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, or knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. The Mexican cultural is admired world-Wide and is considered and is a world treasure. All generations of Mexican descent should be proud of their heritage.
These are the aspects of Mexican culture which are considered by the UNESCO to be a part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity:
Mariachi, String Music, Song and Trumpet
Originating in the Mexican state of Jalisco, mariachi is a traditional type of music and fundamental element of Mexican culture. Traditional Mariachiensembles include trumpets, violins, the vihuela and “guitarrón” (bass guitar), and may have four or more musicians who wear charro costumes. Modern Mariachi music includes a wide repertoire of songs from different regions of the country and musical genres.
Traditional Mexican cuisine is central to the cultural identity of the communities that practice and transmit it from generation to generation. Farming techniques such as the milpa and cooking processes like nixtamalization, as well as specialized utensils, ritual practices and community customs all form a part of the comprehensive cultural model that makes up Mexican cuisine. Culinary customs have been passed down through generations and ensure community cohesion as group identity is expressed through food preparation. See examples of Oaxacan Cuisine and Yucatecan Cuisine.
Day of the Day
El Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a special occasion in which Mexicans remember and honor their family and friends who have passed on. The festivities take place each year from October 31 to November 2. The spirits of the dead are thought to return at this time to visit their relatives and loved ones, who prepare special offerings for them.
The ceremony of the Voladores (‘flying men’) is a fertility dance performed by several ethnic groups in Mexico and Central America, but particularly the Totonac people in the state of Veracruz. The ritual involves five men and a very tall pole. The participants dance around the pole, then climb it. Four of the men drop themselves off of the pole and, suspended upside down in the air by ropes which are wound around the pole, they circle to the ground. The purpose of this ritual is to honor the earth, the passage of time and the group’s place in the universe.
Sometimes referred to as Mexico’s national sport, charrería (or la charreada) is a tradition that has developed from the practices of livestock herding communities in Mexico. The charros and charras demonstrate their skills in roping, reining and riding. The outfits they wear, as well as equipment required for the practice, such as saddles and spurs, are designed and produced by local artisans, forming additional components of the traditional practice. Charrería is considered a vital aspect of the identity of the communities who practice it.