Culture is a lifestyle amongst a group of people that include beliefs, a set of morals, food, dance, and even language. My paper unfolds the culture of the city I was born in. Morelos, Mexico is a small city filled with enriched culture that an individual, including myself, participates in. There are activities that culture plays a huge role on, such as eating Tacos Acorazados, a dish simply made with rice and boiled eggs. "The Land of Culture and Traditions" demonstrates a small piece of Morelos through visual words and explaining each activity that my culture participates in with writing. As each activity is thoroughly explained in my paper, a piece of my culture will be engraved in you knowing that culture is important to individuals who love where they come from.
The Land of Culture and Traditions
Morelos, Mexico, is a land full of enriched culture and customs. With a population of 1.9 million, the state is filled with joy and culture. I was born in Morelos, where there is a history of colonization because of Hernan Cortez, an infamous conquistador who settled on the land. Up until this day, Morelos has held a role as one of the largest sugarcane providers in all the world. Even more so now, Morelos is becoming urbanized and is moving upward in social mobility. When I migrated to the United States, I remember many traditions my family and I used to do to keep our culture alive. Culture is a way to connect with individuals who also come from the same background to build a sense of community and partnership. Culture also plays a huge role in the way that a person identifies. When I came to the United States, I lost that sense of identity. I don’t practice these traditions anymore which is a reflection of my loss of cultural connections due to my family migrating to a new country.
I was born and raised in Tlaquiltenango, Morelos, a small city not far away from the Capital of Cuernavaca. Coming to the United States meant leaving a piece of me and my culture behind in Mexico. In Tlaquiltenango, there was a whole street full of family homes that where kids were allowed to roam free in the streets. Family from one corner of the street to another allowed for the neighborhood to feel like a community especially since we are related by blood. One common tradition that my community had there was popping fireworks on Christmas and New Year’s Day. This custom was passed down through many generations of my family. Along with the fireworks, my family would sit at a large round table to have dinner and each person would go around the table talking about something great that happened to us in the year. The lights in the sky that filled our faces with joy helped create unity and prosperity amongst us. Fireworks were a huge part of my family’s tradition but when a person migrates to a new place, they lose those connections. For me, coming to Los Angeles felt weird at first. There were no fireworks in December, but there were some in July celebrating Independence day in a country I did not belong to.
The lights in the sky that filled our faces with joy helped create unity and prosperity amongst us.
Los Chinelos are people in costumes dancing and jumping to music that sounds almost like cumbias. Traditionally, they are men. Their disguise fills up the room with colors and their long tunic robe that reaches to their feet. The tunic robe can contain sequins, beads, and other beautiful stones that can be seen from a mile away. The dance was developed during the Spanish Conquest but was also a native custom tradition. Los Chinelos began when a group of youth was being excluded from the wealthy class and to hide their identity, they wore masks and robes to make fun of the Spanish settlers. Now they are best known as Carnival dancers in the state of Morelos. Not only do they dance in Carnivals but commonly dance at parties, and private gatherings (Murillo 2019).
Los Chinelos Disguise
The costume that Los Chinelos wear is composed of four elements. The first item that they wear is the robe. The robe can include images of “La Virgen Maria” or simply just a pattern of colors without the Virgin Mary. Next, is the mask that has a long beard facing upwards as if it was a cone on the beard part. The mask is also connected to a bandana wrapped around the performer’s head to keep from dehydration. Then, the large hat is plumed with a few feathers that cover the bandana to help hide their identity. (Hammeken 2016)
Los Chinelos played a huge part in my culture when I used to reside in Mexico. My mother would get my siblings and I ready to attend the biggest Carnival in Morelos. My family would travel an hour away by bus to arrive at the festival and jump around along with the Chinelos. The carnival was something I looked forward to. There was a huge street full of colorful banners that ran around 4 miles and once the Carnival started, the Chinelos would be followed by a set of bands with trumpets, clarinets, and tubas that filled the streets with joy. When we arrived at the festival, I was always able to see the people jumping from the excitement. There was a deeper meaning to why my mother took us to see Los Chinelos. It represented who we were as a community and the cultural customs behind the dance.
There was a time where my mother dressed me up to participate in the carnival. My inner self was crying because the costumes terrified me, but I did it to make my mother happy. I was 7 years old when I wore a long tunic robe and a large hat to jump around to music in the carnival. I have now lost that connection to my culture. In Los Angeles, it is rare for Los Chinelos to be recognized. Moving to Los Angeles with my family meant losing this important tradition amongst us. Sadly, for me now, Los Chinelos do not excite me as much compared to my mother because I felt a sense of fear whenever I saw these huge masks in the street. Even though Los Chinelos and the Carnivals were a huge part of who I was when I was growing up, the change of environment led me to not want to learn more about them.
We all know tacos are very popular in the Mexican community, but Tacos Acorozados originated from Cuernavaca, Morelos which makes it a big deal considering I am from there. These tacos are simply just a plain tortilla but instead of the traditional form, they prepare them with red rice and a boiled egg diced up. The history of these tacos comes from a poor community that did not have a lot of resources to be able to feed people but at the time, this was the only thing that they could come up with.
Fireworks, Los Chinelos, and Tacos Acorozados have played a huge role in my culture. Even though the majority of my family now reside in Los Angeles, we still practice these customs because it makes us feel connected to our own culture. My family sometimes listens to the tune that goes along with Los Chinelos to keep their culture and memories alive because it helps them feel connected to their roots and where they come from.
Los Chinelos and its history related to the Spanish conquest and the youth at the time wanting to feel welcomed in their communities, allowed for common practices to emerge amongst the state of Morelos. Every year, we would attend the carnival and now that we are not able to, we wish we can go back. Furthermore, the fireworks represent happiness in my family which plays a huge role around Christmas and New Years’. The fireworks bring our family together which for us is very important. Also, the Tacos Acorozados are still being made today in my family. We appreciate this dish for its delicious taste so that we treasure what we have. Overall, these customs and traditions played a huge role in my culture and family life in Mexico.
Hammeken, MoKa, and MoKa Hammeken. “Want to Learn Something about Chinelos?” Rocky Point 360, 6 Feb. 2016, rockypoint360.com/so-you-wanted-to-know-something-about-chinelos/.
Murillo, Kiev. “Danza De Los Chinelos: Fiesta y Algarabía En Los Pueblos De
Morelos.” Aboutespanol, AboutEspañol, 1 Nov. 2019, www.aboutespanol.com/danza-de-los-chinelos-fiesta-y-algarabia-en-los-pueblos-de-morelos-1187485.