The older I get the more I realize how “unconventional” my upbringing was compared to a lot of my friends, and my husband who are not Mexican. Things that I see as completely normal are not the norm and I can’t help but think, “Was and is my family crazy and was and is my upbringing even crazier?” I have discovered that all people think this exact thought about their families, and the answer is a hearty “YES!” from all people. I love culture, I love traditions, I love that we all have our “crazy”. When I was younger I didn’t really embrace my culture, but I didn’t shy away from it either, but I have grown to appreciate, love, and embrace my culture. Bottom line, we are a lively bunch, I haven’t once met another Mexican who wasn’t like someone in my family. We are dysfunctional and functional when times get tough. We are loud in love and in arguing. We are passionate in agreeing and disagreeing. We love to celebrate everything in life, and ALWAYS add delicious food to the mix.
(Disclaimer: As a Mexican woman this post is written in love, laughter, and an appreciation of my culture. #SaveTheDramaForYourMama #NoNegativity #Don’tTakeItSoSeriously)
Here are a few things that are completely the “norm” growing up Mexican:
1. The Deer Eye:
As a baby it is common for you to have a deer eye medallion put around your neck like a necklace or it’s pinned on your clothing with a safety pin. This deer eye was meant to ward off the evil eye, but not just any baby wore it … only beautiful babies. How did you know if your baby was “beautiful”? If complete strangers on a consistent basis came up to the parents to oohh and aahh at the baby, and wouldn’t stop saying how beautiful he/she was. What happens with the deer eye? Well, if the baby is receiving a lot of compliments, and someone’s heart is envious of the baby, then the deer eye cracks and you put a new one on the baby. The crack means that it warded off the evil eye from the baby. This is completely normal, right?
This emptied rubbing alcohol bottle has plants and liquids in it and used on every minor cut, headache, and healing that you could ever imagine. I am still not sure till this day what “stuff” is inside this bottle, I just know that when your Abuela uses it with a cotton ball and says a chant in Spanish and rubs it on said area that needs healing, that all is well. When you see Botanica places to shop in, most of the items in the store do not make sense to the “average Joe” walking in, but it makes perfect sense to Mexican ladies. What’s in a Botanica? You will see different saints, things to mix together for certain healing, candles that have meaning based off color, herbs, spices, crosses, etc. The best way to explain Botanica liquid is that it’s the Mexican version of doTerra or young living essential oils, but not packaged as pretty. You’ve been in a botanica, right?
Before we continue, listen to what a Cumbia beat sounds like and you’ll understand (your hips were moving a little along with a little sassy shoulder movement, right?) A Mexican person can hear a cumbia beat from a mile away and start dancing in circles and if you make direct eye contact with them they will grab you to dance with them, just go with it. One time while my husband and I were in Home Depot in Austin, TX a cumbia song came on the speakers and I started to dance in the aisle and he just laughed and smiled and shook his head. He had learned early on when we were dating that this is “normal” in my family and culture. It’s a fun and VERY easy dance to learn, and it’s the equivalent to the everyone knowing how to cha-cha slide. Everyone dances immediately no matter where you are when they hear a cumbia beat, right?
Mexican people will throw a BBQ for any little life moment just to have a reason to party and gather everyone together. Tio Tito is getting out of jail, throw a BBQ. Cousin Juanita is getting her first training bra, throw a BBQ. Abuelo finally got the garage cleaned out, throw a BBQ. Tia Carolina walked one mile around the track, throw a BBQ. You passed your spelling test finally, throw a BBQ. You and your 4 cousins all have birthdays in the month of April, throw a BBQ for a few days to celebrate each cousin. It’s Easter, throw a BBQ the day before, the day of, and the day after, and make sure it’s at the lake. You get my point? Any reason to celebrate, Mexicans will celebrate! Delicious food, amazing memories, and something funny always happens. You party 24/7, right?
5. Guapo and Guapa (Clean and Polished):
Don’t show up to Abuelo and Abuela’s home looking tired and sloppy. You best be showered, cleaned, hair fixed, outfit ironed, and shoes clean, and that goes for both men and women. Mexican grandparents expect you to look like royalty. They expect you to represent your family well in how you look, and they expect you to wear your best depending on the occasion. Mexican culture in the generation of 60 years old and up have groomed their families and the generations after to have this thought process ingrained into their minds. Also, if you have children you are bringing over, you better make sure their hair is fixed and cleaned, their faces are cleaned and lotioned up, and that you have added a little bit of oil in their hair for a shine. There are no excuses, the flu, childbirth, stomach bug, you make sure you look good. Doesn’t everyone do this before going over to their grandparents house?
Chisme can start from anything and everyone is always up for hearing it. Chisme is gossip, and it’s pronounced Cheese-Meh but with a Mexican accent and said fast. Chisme will happen if you are the person who brought their child in their diaper and messy hair. Chisme will start if you made everyone pay for their drinks at the birthday party and didn’t have an open bar. Chisme will start if someone is bragging a lot about their kid that they all know is in jail. Chisme will start if you have a party at the hall of your own parish and not your grandparents parish. Chisme will start if your child didn’t call all the people who came to their graduation BBQ and thank them over the telephone. Chisme will start if someone bought another new truck but you know they asked to borrow money to pay a cell phone bill the week before. Chisme will start if your child isn’t baptized the moment they come out of the womb. I am sure you get my point. It’s never ending, and there’s is ALWAYS chisme every week.
Bottom line: I love all the traditions in my culture, I love that it’s the “norm” for me, and I love where I have come from. My childhood may not seem “conventional” to most, but did any of us really have “conventional” upbringings?
We would love to hear about the traditions and “crazy” in your culture! Share your stories from your culture with us, we love learning about our readers.