Mexican Courtship Traditions

Mexican Courtship Traditions
Mexican courtship traditions are filled with romance, music, and lots of flirting! Mexican courtship traditions are filled with romance, music, and lots of time with family! Photo by Diego Alves on Pexels.   Mexican courtship traditions blend a number of romantic Old World customs with a few western dating customs. Long ago, a girl's parents met first with potential suitors. When the family deemed a suitor worthy, the village considered the couple engaged. Thus began the courtship, which sometimes lasted four years!  

Mexican Courtship

Today in Mexico, courtship continues to take time. However, most couples date first and then become engaged. Engagements remain lengthy, but typically only one to two years. The patriarchal nature of Mexican culture dictates much in regard to dating and courtship. For example, a girl's father determines when she is eligible for courtship. For the most part, fathers forbid their daughters to date until their quinceañera.  Every 15-year-old girl enjoys a special debut celebration when they reach this notable age. Similar to our western celebration of Sweet 16, a girl's family throws her a huge party which symbolizes her transition from girlhood to womanhood. At this point, suitors may approach her parents for permission to court her. Also, she is eligible to participate in a ritual called paseo.  

Paseo

On a Sunday evening, the eligible youth of the village stroll in a circle around the central plaza. The boys walk in one direction, while the girls walk in the opposite direction. They begin by walking with their friends. However, when a young lady catches the eye of a young man, he may pause as they pass to offer her a flower. If she keeps the flower on the next pass, that means she accepts his attentions. The third time around, the young man will step away from his friends to walk and talk with her. Of course, all of this takes place under the watchful eye of her family and the rest of the village. If the young man wishes to court the young lady further, he must first approach her father for permission.  

Dating in Mexico

If her father agrees, the young man arranges to visit her family home on a subsequent afternoon or evening. This and subsequent dates take place primarily in her family's home with all of her relatives present, including aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. If their relationship stands the test of time, the girl's parents may permit them a few private moments alone outside on the porch. Throughout this dating period, chivalry rules. Young ladies expect their suitors to lavish them with flowers, chocolates, and other gifts. Latino men typically shower their dates with affectionate words, as well. They demonstrate impeccable manners, opening doors for all the ladies of the house, pulling out chairs for their beloved, and behaving politely and deferentially to their elders. If a young man wishes to take dating a step further into official courtship/engagement, he typically begins by speaking with the girl's father again.  

Mexican Courtship

When dating turns to serious consideration of marriage, the girl's father must be consulted. Once he receives her father's blessing, a young Mexican man typically plans a grand gesture for his sweetheart. In particular, Latino men favor la seranata as their go-to grand gesture. Often accompanied by a hired mariachi band, the young man positions himself outside the girl's home. As the band plays, he sings a romantic song loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear. If his sweetheart comes out on the porch to listen, it means she accepts his desire to take their relationship to the next level. In Mexico, women represent the center of home and family life. Their desires and opinions on matters of the heart often can take precedence, even over the patriarch's wishes. For example, if her father says no to a suitor, she may be able to convince him to give the young man a chance. On the other hand, if her father grants permission to a young man to serenade her, yet her affections do not run deeply for him, she has the right to remain inside, signalling her rejection of his affections. If he does not take the hint, then the family may make her wishes clear by opening the front door and throwing cold water on him. Yikes! Seems harsh, but such is the custom in this passionate Latin American culture. More than likely, a man will have some assurances of his sweetheart's love for him before attempting such a grand public gesture. Like a proposal in the west, the serenade signals a deeper commitment. The family may even consider the couple engaged at this point, a topic that deserves its own article at a later time. ~Angela Magnotti Andrews
5 years ago
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