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The Maya of Yucatan, a living culture

26 april 2017
3 min. de lectura

When we talk about Mayans you probably imagine those who built the pyramids that we continue to admire. We want to tell you that the Mayans today are a community with a living culture. You can find men and women living in towns and communities in all municipalities, including Mérida, the capital city of Yucatán.

Some have maintained the ancient traditions, the Mayan language and clothing, especially the hipiles in the case of women. Just take a stroll through the markets of the Historic Center of Mérida to find proud mestizas wearing a hipil embroidered with multicolored flowers, a true beauty.

The traditional Mayans, mainly those who live in towns outside of Mérida, have maintained some ceremonies related to important moments in life: birth, marriage, planting, among others. To receive a new member of the family, they turn to midwives, Mayan women who accompany pregnant women during childbirth in a natural way and have a certification from the Mexican Ministry of Health to carry out their activities.


They also usually perform the “hetzmek” ceremony so that the newborn can acquire skills by presenting utensils related to trades such as a hammer, coa, a book, a needle, etc. Traditional Mayan weddings are also characterized by being carried out by a shaman and under a rite of union with nature.


To honor the gods related to the sacred natural elements (fire, water, earth and air), rituals are performed before and after the harvest season. In addition, faithful to the ancient heritage of herbal knowledge, they are treated with natural teas to practically cure themselves of many diseases, with a “bone doctor” (chiropractor) in case of a fall and if the symptoms require special treatment, a shaman can guide them from a more spiritual and symbolic perspective.


You may wonder about the Mayans of today... Several continue to dedicate themselves to agricultural activities on their own plots, mainly planting papaya and citrus fruits and beekeeping. Following the artisan heritage, they are also dedicated to making wooden crafts and making typical embroidered garments; Meanwhile, there are those who work as tourist services guides and speak Mayan, Spanish and even English.

There are also Mayan men and women who have been adapting some recent customs, especially in the cities of Yucatan. They no longer dress in traditional clothing and have incorporated technology and all the modernities for the home that you can imagine. Of course, the family continues to be the central axis of their lives, maintaining ties and closeness when choosing a house or building. Don't be surprised if you find the whole family living on the same street; grandparents, parents, children and even cousins.

Many have studied university degrees, managing to stand out as doctors, engineers, writers and teachers, to name a few professions.

As you will see, the Mayans of today have found in diversity the preservation and evolution of their culture, preserving wisdom and also incorporating new practices according to new times.

Fernanda Pacheco

Author: Fernanda Pacheco

Por Fernanda Pacheco Turismóloga yucateca, incursionado al mundo fascinante de los escritores y creación de contenido. Dispuesta a mostrarle al mundo la pureza de Yucatán.

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