What is the Religion of Mexico?
What makes Mexican religion special and unique? How religious are the Mexicans?
Even though Mexico has no official religion most of Mexicans (between 85% and 90%) are Roman Catholics.
About 6% of Mexicans are Protestants which is close to 4.5 million of people.
Other religions in Mexico include Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other which are practiced by minority of Mexicans.
History of Religion in Mexico
Mexican religion traditions can be traced to some of the ancient civilizations that once ruled the pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The most famous and most influential civilization was the Aztec that absorbed other people and tribes such as Mayans, Toltecs, Olmecs, Zapotecs and others along with their religious beliefs.
Aztecs worshipped many Gods that can be categorized into categories that are related to different themes: Gods of Creation, Nature Gods, Cultural Gods, Gods of Maize and Fertility, Trade Gods, Gods of Dead and Underworld and so on.
They offered human sacrifices to their gods very frequently and in large numbers. Also, during religious rituals they practiced cannibalism.
Aztecs had many religious festivals and during most of them human sacrifices were given to their Gods. Among many of those festivals Aztecs had two religious festivals dedicated to dead. One was called Small feast of the dead (24 July – 12 August) and the other one was called Great feast of the dead (13 August – 1 September).
As you can see the cult of death and dead was very strong and developed in Aztecs civilization. So much so that they had two religious festivals dedicated to the dead which combined lasted for a moth and a half.
In the 16th century Spanish concurred the Aztecs and brought Roman Catholicism to Mesoamerica (present Mexico). Over time Catholicism became the main religion in Mexico. However many native people’s traditions were incorporated into new Mexican religion making Mexican Catholicism unique.
One example of this is the celebration of the Day of the Dead which is celebrated on 2nd of November in present Mexico. Scholars trace the origin of this holiday to the indigenous Zapotec, Olmec, and Maya and of course an Aztec religious festival Great Feast of the Dead.
The uniqueness of Mexican Catholicism and traditional Mexican culture and religion can be best seen in the rural areas of present Mexico. This is because the globalization didn’t pass by the Mexican cities and other modern and industrialized parts of Mexico.
This have caused that many Mexicans living in the cities don’t even celebrate their Christmas according to their Christmas traditions but do so in Western and American way. Not that there is anything wrong with Western way, but the beauty of life lies in its diversity.
How interesting and exiting would it be to travel around the world that is uniformed and has no diversity?
Present Mexican Religion
Mexico is the country with second largest population of Roman Catholics. This means that around 100 million of Mexicans are Catholics.
Even though there is no official religion in Mexico, Catholicism is a big part of Mexican culture. This is best represented by the fact that Christmas is a national holiday and that during Eastern all schools in Mexico are closed.
Mexican people are very religious and Christianity is deeply rooted into their hearts. Close to 50% of Mexicans attend a church service weekly which is one of the highest percentages in the world.
Very special place in Mexican culture and religion holds the Virgin of Guadalupe that appeared 1531 A.D. in what is now the Mexico City. Also, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is the symbol of the integration between the Aztec and Spanish cultures as well as their different religious aspects.
Mexican American Religion
Mexican Americans account for about 10% of the population of the United States. Most of them are Roman Catholics and are assimilated into American culture. This means that among other things they celebrate Christmas in American way and not in traditional Mexican way.
This however does not mean that Mexican Americans alienated themselves completely from the traditional Mexican culture it just means that they integrated with American culture as Aztecs integrated with Spanish culture.