Despite a well-documented alignment between the two nations, Mexico and the United States have very distinct cultures that include a number of different celebrations and holidays each year.
For Nearshore companies that want to establish teams in Mexico, it’s vital to understand these differences, recognize their importance, and adjust schedules to accommodate the needs of Mexican workers on these special days.
Pro tip: Cinco de Mayo is not heavily celebrated in Mexico, contrary to popular belief, but the following events are really important to be aware of.
Mexico Mother’s Day
Celebrated each year on May 10, Mother’s Day (El Dia de las Madres) is one of the most important days of the year for Mexicans. Unlike in the US, where the day is relatively low-key, Mother’s Day in Mexico is a much bigger event that revolves around the deep importance of mothers in the country’s culture.
This importance dates back to Aztec society, when mothers were responsible for teaching values and religion to children. They were protectors of the community and were remembered as warriors if they died in childbirth.
Above all, mothers have always been deeply admired and respected in Mexican culture, and any offensive act towards them is considered unforgivable.
On this day in the office, workers will shower mothers with gifts, such as flowers and chocolates, and employers are often expected to provide cakes for the whole team. Mothers are also commonly given the chance to leave work early, and absenteeism can be high on this day, as many children participate in events or celebrations at school.
To keep workers happy on Mother’s Day, be prepared to provide paid time off for mothers and non-mothers alike, and plan something special to show your recognition of the day’s importance.
Semana Santa (Holy Week)
During the Easter period, Mexico has its own comparative version of Spring Break, otherwise known as Semana Santa. This week-long celebration starts on Palm Sunday and concludes on Easter Sunday, and is a time that everybody thinks about hitting the beach.
Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are classed as national holidays, so workers will expect these days off each year, or triple pay if they are requested to work. The other three days in the week are highly coveted by workers, due to the chance to take nine days off for the price of three, so be prepared for a flood of vacation requests.
The dates for Semana Santa change each year, but it usually falls at the end of March and early April, so find out in advance when this popular holiday week is happening.
One of the distinctly Mexican celebrations of the year honors the country’s children. Dia del Niño, or Children’s Day, is celebrated on April 30, and is a really big deal for Mexican workers.
It’s not an official national holiday, but many parties are held throughout the day at schools and offices as a tribute to kids across the nation. In practical terms, employers should be prepared for parents to request time off on this day, as they may attend special presentations at their kids’ schools.
Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe
On December 12 each year, Mexico goes into full party mode until January 6, with Christmas parties and celebrations taking place all over the country.
The true significance of this day is to celebrate the appearance of the Virgin Mary in Mexico City in 1531. It eventually became a national holiday in 1859. Today, there are many fiestas and ceremonies to celebrate Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe throughout Mexico, involving music, dance, food, and even bullfights.
Once the partying starts, it is very difficult to find a spot for an office party until mid January, so plan and book a location well in advance. Be aware that recruitment levels also drop drastically in December, with up to a 60% drop possible in some locations.
Revolution Day and Independence Day
These two historic celebrations are some of Mexico’s most patriotic days of the year, and are also mandatory national holidays.
Taking place on the third Monday of November, Revolution Day celebrates Mexico’s revolution against dictator José de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mor, which began in 1910. The event is marked with parades, ceremonies, and even a Mexican version of Black Friday, called Buen Fin, when special weekend sales and offers are featured in stores around the country.
Independence Day, which is often confused with Cinco de Mayo in the US, occurs on September 16 every year, and is traditionally a day off for workers when falling on a work day.
Day of the Dead
One of Mexico’s more recognized traditions around the world is the Day of the Dead (Dia de los muertos), which is a celebration of the country’s dearly departed.
Held traditionally on November 1, although some entities observe it on both the 1st and the 2nd, the event gives people a chance to remember and commemorate those who have passed.
Popular culture has recently brought this to the attention of the world, with films like Pixar’s Coco and Sony’s Spectre — the James Bond film that inspired a new annual parade in Mexico City.
During this event, people will normally ask for some time off in order to go visit cemeteries with their families, and lay food, gifts, and decorations on the graves of their departed loved ones.
Many office also allow respectful shrines to be set up at work, along with costume contents and Halloween treats, such as pan de muertos. It’s a great chance for companies to embrace a very unique part of Mexican culture.
As a bonus tip, it is widely expected that workers should be allowed to leave early on Christmas Eve, as this is the day that Christmas is traditionally celebrated in Mexico.
By recognizing and acknowledging these Mexican cultural celebrations in the work calendar, companies that want to operate successfully in Mexico will inspire trust and respect in their brand, leading to greater motivation and a better sense of community in the workforce.