Love having Texans on a tour, which is a good thing, as a lot of Texans come to visit. For Texans, San Miguel offers cultural immersion just a two hour flight away with none of that pesky having to cross an ocean. For me, Texans offer insight to how even living in a border state there is much to learn about Mexico.
Guadalupe is probably the biggest eye-opener. First off, few realize she is a version of Mary. (For the record there are many versions from birth to old age, plus, like Guadaulpe, Marys that reflect where they appeared.) Fewer still realize her profound effect of Mexican culture as the Mother giving birth to Mexico as a country and race. She’s a huge reason Mexico’s culture is more feminine than you’ll find in other places. For many Protestant Texans Mary’s role had been limited to being a supporting player in the Christmas crèche.
Often I’ll be told “My grandmother has a Guadalupe in her bedroom and I had no idea who she was.” For an image seen all over Texas she is often misunderstood.
The conquered history of Mexico surprises many. How the Inquisition lasted 300 years here and then another century, until the 1920s before the Church lost any real power. Mexico is Catholic by culture, if not conviction. You can’t realistically talk about Mexico without acknowledging the Church’s influence on present day traditions and habits.
Also, if for as far back in your family tree as you can go, folks were conquered that effects your world view. If I made enough money on a morning tour to survive the day, why do an afternoon tour? Mexico is not a 401K society, far better to live in the moment as every conquered person knows, there may not be a tomorrow. Have that fiesta today!
The history of tamales is another big surprise and why they are served on Christmas Eve, jokingly referred to as a last minute baby shower for Mary.
The cemetery tour is particularly revealing to those from the Lone Star state. Once day I had a small group of women about my age that all belonged to an evangelical group. When I described the notion of the day you die being your actual birth day as that is the day you enter eternal life in Heaven. Plus how nothing you do here on this plane matters much as this isn’t the real life a yellow rose exclaimed “That’s exactly what we believe we just never called our death our birthday.”
That was an epiphany moment I live for. That differences in history, faith and culture between the US and Mexico may be staggering but at the core, we are in fact a lot alike.
Day of the Dead, thanks to the movie Coco and increased popularity of Halloween, is now being studied in Texas schools. How a culture treats their dead reveals a huge amount about how they live their lives and at its core, to understand Day of the Dead is to understand Mexico on many levels.
Longhorns love learning about Day of the Dead almost as much as they do grasping the significance of turning 15. Often I hear “I thought it was an excuse for a large cake.” Rather than what it really is, a chance a gal entering adulthood to thank those that helped her grow up, say goodbye to childhood, embrace the adult world and all the while show off dance moves she and her amigos have been working on for months!
Quinceanera cakes, and much else, are bigger in Texas, as is their appreciation for understanding their neighbor!