Spanish & Mexican Culture

The elements of culture are not simply accumulated in isolation from another. Rather, the various elements in culture—symbols, knowledge, norms, values and beliefs— are organized and patterned so that the various elements tend to fit each other and integrate to compose a unifying theme for social behavior. The comparative approach in social research employs a wide variety of sociological techniques. Among those which sociologists have frequently resorted to in the study of personality, society, and culture are cross-cultural and inter-societal comparisons. Spanish and Mexican are groups of people who have similarities and differences in their lifestyles, cultures, beliefs and many others (Graham, 2004).

The Spanish people can be divided into five major groups, and based on cultural characteristics and geographic location. They are the Castilians of central Spain, the Catalans of the northeast, the Galicians of the northwest, the Andalusians of the south, and the Basques in the region of the Pyrenees. The main ancestors of the Spaniards were Iberians, the early inhabitants, and Celts, who came later and intermingled with them. The Visigoths and the Moors are among other ancestral groups (Crow, 2005). While the Mexicans, it was roughly estimated that 30 percent are mestizo (of mixed Indian and European descent); nearly all the rest are Caucasian. About 65 percent of the people live in urban areas. The southern part of the Central Plateau, which includes Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Puebla, is the most densely populated region (Rodman, 2001).

This paper scrutinizes and defines the differences and similarities of Spanish and Mexican cultures in terms of religion and language, education, recreation and sports, and its culture itself.

II. Discussion

Mexico was once colonized by the Spanish so it was not surprising if its culture has similarities. Mexico was discovered by the Spanish in 1517 when Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba landed on the Yucatan peninsula. In 1519, Hernando Cortez, with 600 men, established the port of Veracruz. He defeated the Aztecs in 1521 and built México City on the site of their devastated capital. In the next few years, Cortez and other conquistadores subdued the Zapotecs, Mixtecs, and other Indian groups and conquered all of México. The colony was named New Spain, and in 1535 was made a viceroyalty. Moreover, the Roman Catholic friars began converting the Indians to Christianity. The first missions were established in 1524 but met with little success at first. Then, in December, 1531, Juan Diego, an Indian, reported that the Virgin had appeared to him on Tepeyac hill at the edge of México. Many Indians were rapidly converted and became devout Catholics (Mexico: History and Culture, 1998-2006, http://www.geographia.com/mexico/mexicohistory.htm).

A. Similarities and differences in:

Spain’s long history of artistic achievements shows a variety of cultural influences. In the south, Spanish culture reflects the long period of Moorish occupation. Of the surviving Moorish buildings, one of the most famous is the Alhambra palace. Many churches were built in styles combining Moorish and Christian elements.

Spanish painters have produced numerous outstanding works, many of which deal with religious subjects. In the 16th century, the religious mysticism of Spain was represented in the works of El Greco, a Greek painter who worked in Spain. Well-known painters of the 17th and 18th centuries include Diego Velazquez and Francisco de Goya y Lucientas (Graham, 2004). In the 20th century, Pablo Picasso, an originator of Cubism, was outstanding. The Prado in Madrid is one of the world’s great art museums. Other well-known museums are in Barcelona and Toledo. Cave paintings of Cro-Magnon man, which are among the oldest art in the world, are at Altamira in northern Spain.  Music and dance vary from one region to another, with flamenco being the most widely known. The castanets and guitar are popular instruments; Andres Segovia won international fame as a classical guitarist, Pablo Casals as a cellist (Crow, 2005).

Moreover, when the Spaniards came to Mexico in 1517, they found Indians skilled in writing, mathematics, astronomy, painting, sculpture, and architecture. Indian pottery, textiles, and metalwork were highly developed. In converting the Indians to Christianity, the Spanish ruthlessly destroyed the native culture, and began to substitute their own.

a)      Spanish

·         Language and Religion

Castilian Spanish is the principal language of Spain. Three regional languages—Catalan, Galician, and Basque—are also spoken.  Most of the people are Roman Catholics, and the church influences nearly all phases of life. Freedom of religion is established by law, and there are small minorities of Protestants, Jews and Moslems (Crow, 2005).

·         Education

Elementary schooling is free and compulsory for eight years, beginning at age six. Secondary education lasts three years, from age 14 through ages 16. Students who do not go on to secondary school are required to take two years of vocational training. Advanced vocational training, a two-year course followed by a three-year course, is optional (Crow, 2005).

University is preceded by a one-year orientation course. Institutions of higher education include universities, advanced technical schools, and specialized schools. The oldest universities are at Salamanca (founded in 1218), Valladolid (1346), and Barcelona (1450). The largest is the University of Madrid (1508) (Mexico: History and Culture, 1998-2006, http://www.geographia.com/mexico/mexicohistory.htm).

·         Recreation and Sports

Bullfighting is Spain’s national sport, and bullrings may be found even in small communities. During the San Fermin festival, the men of Pamplona drive bulls through the streets to the ring. Soccer is also a favorite spectator sport. Jai alai is also popular, especially among the Basques (Graham, 2004).

Spain has many fairs and festivals, most of them centering on religious events. A number of towns honor patron saints, and various holy days are celebrated according to local traditions. Easter Week celebrations throughout the country are famous for elaborate processions (Graham, 2004).

b)      Mexican

·         Language and Religion

Just like the Spanish, the official language of Mexico is Spanish. Indian languages are spoken by about 7 percent of the people. The principal Indian tongues are Maya and Nahuatl. Church and state are separated in México and there is freedom of religion. About 97 percent of the people belong to the Roman Catholic Church (Riding, 1999).

·         Education

Education is compulsory between ages of 6 and 14, and is free and secular. Many children, however, have no opportunity to gain even a primary education. Schools are lacking in the remote rural areas, and in the cities they are often desperately crowded ((Riding, 1999). Responsibility for primary education is carried largely by the federal government, which is making an effort to provide schooling for all.

The primary schools offer six years of study, but rural pupils are permitted to enter government agricultural schools after the fourth year. Some secondary schools are maintained by federal or state governments; others are privately operated. Five years of secondary education are required for admission to a university and the three-year teaching-training courses. Secondary schools also offer various vocational-training courses. Most Mexican universities are state or federally supported. Largest and oldest is the National Autonomous University of Mexico, founded in México City in 1551 (the first on North America’s mainland). Although it receives a federal subsidy, it has been independent of government control since 1929. Other schools include the National Polytechnic Institute, Guadalajara Autonomous University, and Monterrey Institute of Technology (Epstein, 2003).

An intensive adult literacy campaign was begun in 1944, and educational opportunities for children have greatly expanded. About a third of the adult population, however, is still illiterate.

·         Recreation and Sports

A favorite recreation in México is the fiesta (festival). Whether patriotic or religious, the fiesta is an explosion of noise, color, and activity, with ringing church bells, bands, singing, dancing, bright costumes, fireworks, and parades or processions. Official national holidays include September 16 (Independence Day), which commemorates the beginning of the revolution of 1810 against Spanish rule, and November 20, which commemorates the anniversary of the revolution of 1910 (Epstein, 2003).

III. Conclusion

People differ in many ways but if every individual will try to scrutinize its origin, each of us can say that we have a lot of similarities and have the same origin. Just like the Mexican and Spanish cultures, Mexican people are influenced by the Spanish people in so many ways in terms of their culture, religion, language used, education, interests and many more because Mexico was once colonized by the Spanish and that made them connected. Same way too in a classroom, we may have different backgrounds and interests but there is something that binds and knits us together as a whole class because we have the same teachers who teach and influence our personality as an individual.

As a researcher, I really look for many options in finding my resources in order o complete this paper.  I read books in the library and searched on some websites that have subjects related to my topic.

Actually, all of the resources I used are all important because these make my research complete. This paper is very important because it gives us the chance to study other country that has similarities to our culture and how are we influenced by other individuals.

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