Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Jarabe Tapatío, an example of traditional Mexican dance and costumes.
Mexican culture reflects the complexity of the country's history through the blending of pre-Hispanic civilizations and the culture of Spain, imparted during Spain's 300-year colonization of Mexico. Exogenous cultural elements mainly from the United States have been incorporated into Mexican culture.
The Porfirian era (el Porfiriato), in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth century, was marked by economic progress and peace. After four decades of civil unrest and war, Mexico saw the development of philosophy and the arts, promoted by President Díaz himself. Since that time, as accentuated during the Mexican Revolution, cultural identity has had its foundation in the mestizaje, of which the indigenous (i.e. Amerindian) element is the core. In light of the various ethnicities that formed the Mexican people, José Vasconcelos in his publication La Raza Cósmica (The Cosmic Race) (1925) defined Mexico to be the melting pot of all races (thus extending the definition of the mestizo) not only biologically but culturally as well.[203] This exalting of mestizaje was a revolutionary idea that sharply contrasted with the idea of a superior pure race prevalent in Europe at the time.


Teotihuacan architecture, an excellent example of Pre-Hispanic architecture displaying the common Amerindian use of jade, gold, carved, black granite and red paint, a reoccurring design motiff of many of Mexico's pre-colonial civilizations.
In a broad sense, Mexican architecture comprises works of architecture created in Mexico, as well as architecture of pre-Hispanic and colonial times that have become part of Mexico's architectural heritage. Moreover, architectural styles of the independent nation have a strong influence from those previous epochs; therefore it is necessary to include them as part of this heritage. Mesoamerican architecture is the set of architectural traditions produced by pre-Columbian cultures and civilizations of Mesoamerica, traditions which are best known in the form of public, ceremonial and urban monumental buildings and structures. The distinctive features of Mesoamerican architecture encompass a number of different regional and historical styles, which however are significantly interrelated. These styles developed throughout the different phases of Mesoamerican history as a result of the intensive cultural exchange between the different cultures of the Mesoamerican culture area through thousands of years. Mesoamerican architecture is mostly noted for its pyramids which are the largest such structures outside of Ancient Egypt.

The Guadalajara Cathedral an example of Mexican colonial architecture.
Spanish Colonial architecture, which dominated in the early Spanish colonies, is marked by the contrast between the simple, solid construction demanded by the new environment and the Baroque ornamentation exported from Spain. Mexico, as the center of New Spain has some of the most renowned buildings built in this style. With twenty-nine sites, Mexico has more sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list than any other country in the Americas, many of them boasting some of the richest Spanish Colonial architecture. Some of the most famous cities in Mexico built in the Colonial style are Puebla, Zacatecas, Querétaro, Guanajuato, and Morelia.
During President Porfirio Diaz's reign (1876–1880, 1884–1911), patrons and practitioners of architecture manifested two impulses: to create an architecture that would indicate Mexico's participation in modernity and the emphasize Mexico's difference from other countries through the incorporation of local characteristics into the architecture. The first goal took precedence over the second during most of the nineteenth century. A modern, sophisticated Mexico was the goal of President Diaz. Cast iron, marble, granite, bronzes and stained glass became mainstays of this period. Diaz was determined to transform the landscape of the nation's capital into one reminiscent of Paris or London. It is not surprising that the most important architectural commissions of the Porfiriato were built in these styles.

The Juarez Theatre built in Porfirian style in 1903, is an example of Mexican styled architecture which integrates European architecture with pre-Hispanic elements.
Examples include the Postal Palace, the National Theatre of Mexico (1904), the Legislative Palace (1903), the Secretariat of Communications and Public Works (1902–11). Neo-Gothic designs were also incorporated into the monumental public buildings of the early twentieth century. The two best examples were the Central post office and the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Modern Mexican high-rise architecture seen in Santa Fe, Mexico.
After the Mexican Revolution in 1917, idealization of the indigenous and the traditional symbolized attempts to reach into the past and retrieve what had been lost in the race toward modernization. The School of Theatre (1994), by TEN Arquitectos, and the School of Dance (1994), by Luis Vicente Flores, express a modernity that reinforces the government's desire to present a new image of Mexico as an industrialized country with a global presence. Enrique Norten, the founder of TEN Arquitectors, was presented with the "Legacy Award" by the Smithsonian Institution for his contributions to the US arts and culture through his work. In 2005 he received the "Leonardo da Vinci" World Award of Arts by the World Cultural Council and was the first Mies van der Rohe Award recipient for Latin American Architecture.
The José Vasconcelos Library, designed by Alberto Kalach, in Mexico City The refined work of Alberto Kalach and Daniel Alvarez stands out both in their numerous residences as well as in the San Juan de Letrán Station (1994) in Mexico City. The residential work of José Antonio Aldrete-Haas in Mexico City shows both the influence of the attenuated Modernism of the great Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza and a continuity with the lessons of Barragán. Other notable and emerging contemporary architects include Mario Schjetnan, Michel Rojkind, Tatiana Bilbao, Isaac Broid and Bernardo Gómez-Pimienta, Juan C. Ordaz Coppel and Jacinto Avalos from Avalos Arquitectos y Asociados with award winning works in Mexico, USA and Europe. Modern buildings (especially skyscrapers) in Mexico share many design parallels with modern urban Japanese, Chinese and German architecture however modern Mexican architecture usually integrates elements of both Hispanic and amerindian architectural styles.


Famous actors Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete in the 1952 film Dos Tipos de Cuidado
Mexican films from the Golden Age in the 1940s and 1950s are the greatest examples of Latin American cinema, with a huge industry comparable to the Hollywood of those years. Mexican films were exported and exhibited in all of Latin America and Europe. Maria Candelaria (1944) by Emilio Fernández, was one of the first films awarded a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946, the first time the event was held after World War II. The famous Spanish-born director Luis Buñuel realized in Mexico, between 1947 to 1965 some of him master pieces like Los olvidados (1949), Viridiana (1961) and El angel exterminador (1963). Famous actors and actresses from this period include María Félix, Pedro Infante, Dolores del Río, Jorge Negrete and the comedian Cantinflas.
More recently, films such as Como agua para chocolate (1992), Cronos (1993), Amores perros (2000), Y tu mamá también (2001), El Crimen del Padre Amaro (2002), Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and Babel (2006) have been successful in creating universal stories about contemporary subjects, and were internationally recognised, as in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores perros, Babel), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), Guillermo del Toro, Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro), and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga are some of the most known present-day film makers.


Jalisco Symphony Orchestra
Mexican society enjoys a vast array of music genres, showing the diversity of Mexican culture. Traditional music includes Mariachi, Banda, Norteño, Ranchera and Corridos; on an every-day basis most Mexicans listen to contemporary music such as pop, rock, etc. in both English and Spanish. Mexico has the largest media industry in Latin America, producing Mexican artists who are famous in Central and South America and parts of Europe, especially Spain. Some well-known Mexican singers are Thalía, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Fernández, Julieta Venegas and Paulina Rubio. Mexican singers of traditional music are: Lila Downs, Susana Harp, Jaramar, GEO Meneses and Alejandra Robles. Popular groups are Café Tacuba, Molotov and Maná, among others.

Alternative Mexican rock band PXNDX performing live.
According to the Sistema Nacional de Fomento Musical, there are between 120 and 140 youth orchestras affiliated to this federal agency from all federal states. Some states, through their state agencies in charge of culture and the arts—Ministry or Secretariat or Institute or Council of Culture, in some cases Secretariat of Education or the State University—sponsor the activities of a professional Symphony Orchestra or Philharmonic Orchestra so all citizens can have access to this artistic expression from the field of classical music. There is no public information about the exact number of professional orchestras in the country (probably 40 ensembles of very diverse caliber). Mexico City is the most intense hub of this activity hosting 12 professional orchestras sponsored by different agencies such as the National Intitute of Fine Arts, the Secretariat of Culture of the Federal District, The National University, the National Polytechnic Institute, a Delegación Política (Coyoacán) and very few are a kind of private ventures.
Orquestas in Mexico are mainly subsidized by a governmental body or agency, unlike their American counterparts, therefore, these organizations do not have departments such as marketing or development. States such as Baja California Sur, Campeche, Chiapas, Colima, Morelos, Nayarit, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Tabasco, and Tlaxcala do not have a professional Symphony orchestra. The only permanent opera company belongs to the National Institute of Fine Arts, offering six productions yearly, however, some cities such as Guadalajara, Monterrey or Morelia make important efforts to present this kind of expression to local audiences.

National holidays

Municipal president giving the "grito" of "Viva Mexico" at the commencement of Independence Day festivities in 2008

A skull made out of sugar, given during the Day of the Dead festival.
Mexicans celebrate their independence from Spain on September 16, and other holidays with colorful festivals known as "Fiestas". Every Mexican city, town and village holds a yearly festival to commemorate their local patron saints. During these festivities, the people pray and burn candles to honor their saints in churches decorated with flowers and colorful utensils. They also hold large parades, fireworks, dance competitions, beauty pageant contest, party and buy refreshments in the market places and public squares. In the smaller towns and villages, soccer, boxing, cockfighting and amateur bullfighting are also celebrated during the festivities.
Other festivities include Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe ("Guadalupe Day"), Las Posadas ("The Shelters", celebrated on December 16 to December 24), Noche Buena ("Holy Night", celebrated on December 24), Navidad ("Christmas", celebrated on December 25) and Año Nuevo ("New Years Day", celebrated on December 31 to January 1). "Guadalupe Day" is regarded by many Mexicans as the most important religious holiday of their country. It honours the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, which is celebrated on December 12. In the last decade, all the celebrations happening from mid December to the beginning of January have been linked together in what has been called the Guadalupe-Reyes Marathon.
Piñatas are unique to Mexican celebrations. A pinata is made from papier-mache. It is created to look like popular people, animals, or fictional characters. Once made it is painted with bright colors and filled with candy or small toys. It is then hung from the ceiling. The children are blind folded and take turns hitting the piñata until it breaks open and the candy and small toys fall out. The children then gather the candy and small toys.

Fine arts

Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City
Post-revolutionary art in Mexico had its expression in the works of renowned artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, Federico Cantú Garza, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Juan O'Gorman. Diego Rivera, the most well-known figure of Mexican Muralism, painted the Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center in New York City, a huge mural that was destroyed the next year due to the inclusion of a portrait of Russian communist leader Lenin.[204] Some of Rivera's murals are displayed at the Mexican National Palace and the Palace of Fine Arts.
Academic music composers of Mexico include Manuel María Ponce, José Pablo Moncayo, Julián Carrillo, Mario Lavista, Carlos Chávez, Silvestre Revueltas, Arturo Márquez, and Juventino Rosas, many of whom incorporated traditional elements into their music. Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Juan Rulfo, Elena Poniatowska, and José Emilio Pacheco, are some of the most recognized authors of Mexican literature.


 A late 18th century painting of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexican poet and writer.
The literature of Mexico has its antecedents in the literatures of the indigenous settlements of Mesoamerica. The most well known prehispanic poet is Netzahualcoyotl. Modern Mexican literature was influenced by the concepts of the Spanish colonialization of Mesoamerica. Outstanding colonial writers and poets include Juan Ruiz de Alarcón and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
Other writers include Alfonso Reyes, José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, Ignacio Manuel Altamirano, Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz (Nobel Laureate), Renato Leduc, Jaime Labastida, Mariano Azuela ("Los de abajo") and Juan Rulfo ("Pedro Páramo"). Bruno Traven wrote "Canasta de cuentos mexicanos", "El tesoro de la Sierra Madre."

Broadcast Media

Two of the major television networks based in Mexico are Televisa and TV Azteca. Televisa is also the largest producer of Spanish-language content in the world and also the world's largest Spanish-language media network.[205] Grupo Multimedios is another media conglomerate with Spanish-language broadcasting in Mexico, Spain, and the United States. Soap operas (telenovelas) are translated to many languages and seen all over the world with renowned names like Verónica Castro, Lucía Méndez, Lucero, and Thalía. Even Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna from Y tu mamá también and current Zegna model have appeared in some of them.
Some of their TV shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like Family Feud (100 Mexicanos Dijeron or "A hundred Mexicans said" in Spanish) and ¿Qué dice la gente?, Big Brother, American Idol, Saturday Night Live and others. Nationwide news shows like Las Noticias por Adela on Televisa resemble a hybrid between Donahue and Nightline. Local news shows are modeled after counterparts from the U.S. like the Eyewitness News and Action News formats. Border cities receive television and radio stations from the U.S., while satellite and cable subscription is common for the middle-classes in most cities, and they often watch movies and TV shows from the U.S.


"Chocolate" originates from Mexico's Aztec cuisine, derived from the Nahuatl word xocolatl.
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices. Most of today's Mexican food is based on pre-Columbian traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists.
The conquistadores eventually combined their imported diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native pre-Columbian food, including maize, tomato, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chili pepper, beans, squash, limes (limón in Mexican Spanish), sweet potato, peanut and turkey.

Cabrito con Tamales
Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic differences among the indigenous inhabitants and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef, goat and ostrich production and meat dishes, in particular the well-known Arrachera cut.
Central Mexico's cuisine is largely made up of influences from the rest of the country, but also has its authentics, such as barbacoa, pozole, menudo, tamales, and carnitas.
Southeastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. The cuisine of Southeastern Mexico also has quite a bit of Caribbean influence, given its geographical location. Seafood is commonly prepared in the states that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the latter having a famous reputation for its fish dishes, à la veracruzana.
In modern times, other cuisines of the world have become very popular in Mexico, thus adopting a Mexican fusion. For example, sushi in Mexico is often made with a variety of sauces based on mango or tamarind, and very often served with serrano-chili-blended soy sauce, or complemented with vinegar, habanero and chipotle peppers
The most internationally recognized dishes include chocolate, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, tamales and mole among others. Regional dishes include mole poblano, chiles en nogada and chalupas from Puebla; cabrito and machaca from Monterrey, cochinita pibil from Yucatán, Tlayudas from Oaxaca, as well as barbacoa, chilaquiles, milanesas, and many others.