Friday, November 27, 2015

You are not in Kansas anymore

Night of the Kings Isla Mujeres M Watt photo
The great thing about being an ex-pat, living in another country, is the adventure.  
Different food, different language, and different customs – and it sure the hell isn’t exactly like “home.”  But that’s what makes the experience so enjoyable.
We grimace when we hear ex-pats criticize their new country, and I don’t just mean folks that have recently moved here to Isla, I mean any ex-pat in any country.  Unless you hold a valid passport for your new country you are not a citizen, you are a guest: plain and simple.  You are allowed to be in that country at the pleasure of the government.  Enjoy the experience for what it is!

Here’s some of the fun differences you will find in Mexico:
Did you know that gift giving at Christmas is not a widespread tradition in Mexico?

Lawrie with Jordan Kowalchuk, 2000 in Canada
The traditional day for gift giving is January 6th the Night of the Kings, when the three wise men purportedly arrived in Bethlehem with gifts for the baby Jesus.  
Gift giving at Christmas only gained in popularity with the advent of television marketing and the influx of American and Canadian visitors.  Beleaguered parents must now purchase gifts for both Christmas and the Night of the Kings.  It’s a financial challenge for the parents, but a great score for the kids!

Did you know that the Cinco de Mayo celebrations are generally ignored in Mexico?

The Cinco de Mayo, 5th of May, has been celebrated in California since 1863 when Mexican miners, who were working in northern California, learned that 4000 Mexican troops had defeated 8000 invading French troops at Puebla Mexico.  The French had conquered the important port of Veracruz in 1861 on the east coast and had then moved overland to invade Mexico City.  They were finally stopped and defeated by the Mexican troops at Puebla.  
At the time the Battle of Puebla took place in 1863 the United States was occupied with their Civil War.  France has hoped to establish a presence in Mexico so that they could support the Confederate Army in their battle with the U.S. Union forces.  The Mexican, working in California, were so overjoyed at the news of their country’s successful defeat of the French forces, they fired off rifle shots and sang patriotic songs.  By the 1930’s, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo was seen as a celebration of the Mexican culture.  The holiday didn’t come into US national prominence until the 1980’s when beer company marketers, primarily Corona, capitalized on the celebration and it grew in popularity in areas like Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and San Jose.

Did you know that Halloween and The Day of the Dead are not the same?
Lynda & Lawrie
Halloween is believed to have originated in Ireland as a pagan celebration in appreciation of the afterlife, of survival, of continuing to be alive while others have died.  It is the day when the door to the afterlife is open.  Halloween has since evolved into a festival of funny costumes, parties, and trick-or-treating.
The Day of the Dead, Día de los Muertos, originated in Mexico around 3500 years ago.  It is a celebration in remembrance of friends and family who have passed on.  Celebrated over three days it is an important family event.  October 31st the angelitos, spirits of dead children, are invited back to visit their families.  November 1st is for the adult spirits, and November 2nd is All Souls Day when families visit the cemeteries to decorate the graves of their relatives.  
Trick-or-treating is not part of the Day of the Dead celebrations.  But kids are always happy to embrace a new idea, especially one that includes candy.
Flowers for Day of the Dead
Did you know that Mexico is part of North America? 
It’s strange how most ex-pats or tourists think just of Canada and the USA when referring to North America.  Mexico is part of North America.  Central America starts at the southern border of Mexico and includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.   And South America, well it is that really, really big continent south of Central America.  
The oldest permanent European settlements in North America are thought to be Mexico City settled by Spanish in the 1520’s, Port Royal in Nova Scotia Canada settled by French in 1605, and Jamestown Virginia USA settled by English in 1607.  That makes Mexican traditions about a hundred years older than Canadian or American traditions. 

Cooking with Abuelita Angelita, FaceBook photo
So now you know a bit more about Mexico, and hopefully our internet research is reasonably correct.  
Celebrate the differences and embrace your new adventure whole-heartedly.  Learn a bit about local customs, try different foods, attempt to learn the language even if you stumble and make a mess of the words.  

Try these fun adventures:
Spanish + English classes and Boot Camps in Isla Mujeres, taught by Christy Dix
Or learn Mexican cooking with Christy’s mother-in-law, Abuelita Angelita.   Both ladies can be found on Facebook.
Spanish Boot Camp with Christy Dix - FB photo
Live, laugh and enjoy!  Life is too damn short to be grumpy about little annoyances!

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie

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