Another thing that I took it for granted until I moved from Mexico is the simple habit of saying hello. Whenever you see someone, regardless of whether they are a dear friend or a complete stranger, you greet them with a warm hug. Women and children often say hello with a hug and kiss on the cheek. Even handshakes are warm and personal.
Goodbyes are just as intimate, and it will usually take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half to say goodbye! People will hug and kiss and send regards to family members and friends, wish them good luck on upcoming events and even start a brand new conversations then and there. In Mexico it is not only strange but incredibly rude to arrive anywhere and not say hello and goodbye when you leave.
When I arrived to the United States I was startled by the cold distance and indifference when people greeted each other. Strangers didn’t hug and friends exchanged indifferent handshakes. People would actually grow uncomfortable with warmer greetings. It is far more common to come and go without even saying hello or goodbye.
Another major difference between the two cultures is religion. In the United States 80.2% of the citizens are Christians, with Protestants being the majority, followed by the Roman Catholics and other denominations. Nevertheless, basic Christian ideals such as salvation and morality are deep-rooted into the American psyche. But, they have a more liberal outlook towards religion. Americans value open-mindedness as well as a general tolerance of all religions. Many are actually tolerant to the point of intolerance. Discussing religion publicly is looked down upon as it is an offensive topic. Everyone is welcome to practice their own religion as long as it does not infringe upon anyone else’s belief system.
Mexico has no official religion. However, Roman Catholicism is the main religion. They are not afraid to talk about their faith because it plays an active role in their lives. Many attend Mass weekly, or some even daily. They follow Catholic customs of specific prayers for funerals and the one year anniversary of a death. They practice posadas (Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging). Priests visit the homes of those who are too sick or elderly to attend Mass; they offer the communion in the home.
Faith is very important and discussed frequently in both public and private settings. Religion has a very strong influence in the daily lives of Mexicans. It is not frowned upon, when you meet someone new, to ask where are they going to church, or did their kids already have their First Communion. When the children turn 2-3 years old they are introduced to the church, by following a tradition “La Presentacion al Templo” where all the family and the priest welcome the kid into the arms of the church. Most of all festivals are centered around their religion mixed with pre hispanic traditions.
Now, who’s afraid of death? Raise your hands high, because I know there...