Tag Archives: las mananitas

Birthday Boy

My son turned 16 in May. We opted to invite some of the family over for a cookout.  It went better than I expected. As you’ll see, Mexico does its own thing when it comes to birthdays.

In the morning, just at dawn, my husband and I crept into my son’s room to “dar el remojo” (give the soaking). Instead of birthday spankings, water is dumped on the birthday boy or girl. Way before the Catholic church arrived to baptize the indigenous people, rain was the blessing given by the gods. El cumpleaños (anniversary of completing years rather than the day you were born) deserves some liberal blessing libations, don’t you think? Of course, my son sputtered and flopped about like a drenched chicken, but a little water never hurt anyone (except the Wicked Witch of the West but she isn’t known here in Mexico).

In the afternoon, after we ate all the tacos we could eat, it was time for the cake. Instead of singing “Happy Birthday” the traditional song is “Las Mañanitas” which is also sung on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, the Virgin of Guadalupe’s day and saints’ days. It’s a pretty song used for serenading. Typically, only the first verse is sung at birthdays followed by a coro (cheer) “A la bim, a la bam, a la bim bom bam, (name of the person, name of the person) Ra, ra, ra.” As it’s all nonsense, no translation is needed. Remember, in Mexico, more often than not, your birthday and the day to honor the Saint for which you were named are the same day, thus “el dia de tu santo” (your saint’s day) in the song still applies although it is sometimes altered to “tu cumpleaños.”

Las Mañanitas (1)

Despierta (nombre de la persona) despiertaPasó el tiempo de dormirYa los gallos muy contentos cantaron kikirikiYa viene amaneciendoya la luz del dia nos dió.Levantarte de la mañana,miAfter the singing, the chant begins “Que le sople. Que le sople.” encouraging the birthday boy or girl to blow out the candle. The next step is “Que le muerda. Que le muerda.”  The birthday boy/girl is instructed to take a bite out of the cake which inevitably results in a face plant when someone attacks from behind. Then the chant changes to “Que le parta. Que le parta.” indicating it is time for the cake to be cut and served. 

Breaking a piñata at a birthday party is typically only found at parties for the very young, and well-to-do families, or so says my husband.  Considering he came from a family with 11 children, it really wouldn’t have been affordable to have a piñata for every child’s birthday, so I can see his point. We have had piñatas in the past, but not this year. For the same reason, giving birthday gifts isn’t one of my husband’s family’s traditions. Thus, this was my son’s lone b-day present all decked out in Spiderman, for old times sake.


So there you have it–the low-key event marking my son’s 16th birthday.



Filed under Mexican Holidays, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms

May Holidays in Mexico– El Dia de las Madres–Mothers’ Day


This little guy makes me the proud mother of a Mexican!

May 10th is Mexican Mother’s Day. It’s not an official day off, although all kindergartens and elementary schools, both private and public, have class suspensions for some sort of civic event, whether singing, theater or art, to show appreciation for mom. It’s a fixed holiday, so the day it falls on is the day it is observed as opposed to the Sunday jumping that occurs in the U.S.

In Mexico, May 10th was chosen way back in 1911 but didn’t get much attention until 1922, after Rafael Alducin wrote an article in the journal El Hogar supporting the idea of celebrating Mother’s Day. In his article, Alducin stressed the sanctity of motherhood as one of Mexico’s traditional and fundamental values. The Catholic Church took up the call as a way to discourage family planning and reduce the threat of feminism. As a result, the Archbishop of Mexico gave his official blessing to the holiday. After all, Mexico recognizes La Virgen de Guadalupe as the mother of Mexico (See La Virgen de Guadalupe) and what could be more honorable for a Mexican woman than to follow her example?


La Virgen de Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas

Just as is done with the ultimate Mexican mother, La Virgen de Guadalupe, it is very common to hear mariachi serenading mamas with Las Mananitas at dawn.

The church outdoes itself with a special morning mass for all mothers, sometimes accompanied with atole and tamales. Mothers are treated to bouquets of flowers and chocolates from their children. Families often gather for a traditional meal in honor of the matriarch. Visits to the panteon (cemetery) are also common. A mother is still a mother, even after death. (See El Dia de Los Muertos)

As a mother of a Mexican, I have to say, Mexico’s Mother’s Day celebrations have a way of making a mother feel honored.

May is quite the month here in Mexico. Every time you turn around there is another celebration! For other Mexican May holidays see: El Día de los Trabajadores, Conmemoración del Escuadron de Pelea 201, El Dia de La Santa Cruz y El Dia del Albañil, La Batalla de Puebla, Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo, El Dia de la Madre, El Jueves de la Ascension, Pascua de Pentecostés, Día del Maestro, and El Dia del Estudiante


What else is there to know about the holidays in Mexico?

cover holidays


Filed under Mexican Holidays, Religion