Last updateFri, 01 Mar 2024 11am


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Curse you Mark Zuckerberg!

Logging on to Facebook early this week, I was greeted with a personalized “Happy Friends Day” message, posted to mark the 12th birthday of the acknowledged leader in social media.

Mexican nicknames economize, simplify & extend familiarity

Chucho. Pancho. Nacho. Lupe. Cuca. If you live in Mexico, chances are you know at least one of these people. 

Have you ever wondered where their nicknames come from? “Many abbreviated names have their origin in infantile language,” explains Professor Jose Luis Iturrios, an applied linguistics specialist at the Universidad de Guadalajara. “The child pronounces an abbreviated name like Nacho [from Ignacio] and the family ends up saying Nacho too ... and finally as adults, everyone remembers Nacho ... [These nicknames] are already standardized and aren’t going to change.”

Mastering the Mexican Time Warp

Forget the dictionary definition, the most precise translation of mañana is “not today.” The term al rato means “in a while,” al ratito, “in a little while.” The word ahorita can signify right now, a few minutes from now, or any time in the foreseeable future. 

Wrestling with road rage

I sometimes joke that driving around lakeside is a lot like testing one’s skills in those old arcade auto play stations or a new-fangled video game, only the hazards here are real and points count on a life-or-death scale.

Mexico’s quirky new year traditions

It is 11:59 p.m. Families are huddled at the dinner table, listening for the chimes of the clock that signal the arrival of the new year. As soon as the clock strikes, each person starts eating a dozen grapes.

Mexico’s most unique New Year tradition at times seems like it was taken from a wacky game show – the person who can get all 12 grapes down before the clock strikes midnight gets good luck for the rest of the year.

Some also posit the birthday-esque theory that in the process of gorging the 12 grapes, a person must focus on his or her wishes.  The tradition seems to have originated in Mexico City, though no one seems to know its roots. Catholic priests say the rite is not from the Christian religion.

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Another widely practised new year tradition in Mexico is wearing red underwear as the year turns if you wish to have amorous success in the coming 12 months. If your heart is set on making pots of money, wear yellow calzones.

The piñata’s hidden symbols

According to the good monks of yore, the decorated clay jar represents Satan who also wears an attractive mask to attract and mislead humans.  Here are some of the other symbols hidden in the tradition of the piñata: