DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Members: Bryant Armistead, Christiyana Marks, Sarah Scrivner, Katherine Turpin, Xingfang Xie (Jubilee), Christina Yard Emanis

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Cultural Awareness

Mexican Heroes, Villains, Rituals

and Customs


Pancho Villa


Pancho Villa, a famous Mexican revolutionary and guerilla, is an ingrained part of Mexican history and a hero to many.  He was born as Doroteo Arango on June 5, 1878 to a poor sharecropper and his wife. He grew up helping on the family farm and became man of the house when his father died. 

Pancho took care of his family and took on all of the responsibilities that his father would have done.These responsibilities included protecting the family. There was a man that was harassing Villa’s sisters. He shot that man and then ran from the law. He was captured and put into prison.

Villa escaped prison and began his new way of life as a bandito. In 1909 Pancho Villa joined the uprising

 against Porfirio Diaz led by Francisco Medera. He quickly rose in rank due to his fighting skills and eventually reached t


he rank of colonel. He was almost executed in 1912. Villa fled to the United States for a while but eventually came back.

Upon his return to Mexico Villa created his own mil itary force. This military force was known as Division Del Norte. Villa’s military force soon joined ranks with two other revolutionaries, 

Venustiano Carranza and Emiliano Zapata, to overthrow Victoriano Huerta. It didn’t take long though to realize that these forces didn’t really work extremely well together, and Villa and Carranza became rivals.

Pancho Villa led a pair of attacks in 1916 that killed more than thirty Americans. This promptedAmerican military involvement and a manhunt for Villa. After 11 months of being hunted Villa had still been able to elude capture. In 1920, he was pardoned by Mexican president Adolfo de la Huerta. Villa retired to a quiet life on the ranch after he was pardoned. His way of life change did not last for long though. Pancho Villa was assassinated on June 20, 1923.




Pancho Villa - Facts & Summary - HISTORY.com. (2017). HISTORY.com. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/pancho-villa




Miguel Hidalgo


 Miguel Hidalgo is a hero in Mexican history and because of his work is known as the “Father of Mexico’s 

Independence”. Hidalgo was born in a hacienda in Pénjamo, Guanajuato in 1753. Father Hidalgo was Creole priest in a small town called Dolores in Guanajuato. Hidalgo gathered townspeople together regularly and held meetings to teach them how to work the land. He helped the native people grow in their strength as a group by building an estate. This estate consisted of a pottery shop, blacksmith stable, tanning shop, carpentry store, and a looming shop. This gave the people ways to provide with their 

unique talents and to create a stable and productive environment for them to live in


Hidalgo had very liberal ideas that eventually led him to join forces with a group ofpeople who opposed the Spanish domination. He and this group of liberals reached an agreement in Queretaro to begin a revolution in October 1810. This group was soon after discovered. The fact that their secrecy was destroyed force them to move 

 up the start of their revolution to September 16, 1810 instead of the aforementioned October date. It was then that Hidalgo, holding the banner with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and ringing the church bell, gathered many of his congregation together. 

These faithful Catholics then listened to his speech about the Spanish oppression and the dire need 

for them to free themselves from Spain.

When his speech was over there were a lot of angry people shouting: “Long live independence!  Long live America!  Away with bad government!”

The armed battle began and would eventually give the people a new and free nation. In 1811 Father Hidalgo was ambushed by Félix MaríaCalleja. 

Hidalgo was relieved of his duties as a priest and then was sentenced and shot to death. 


He fought for his people and their freedom for a long time and definitely not in vain. Mexico gained its independence September 21, 1821. Mexico would never have gained independence if it hadn’t been for Hidalgo gathering the people together and beginning the fight for freedom.



Galicia, A. (2017). Don Miguel Hidalgo: Father of Our Independence Inside Mexico | Inside MexicoInside-mexico.com. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from https://www.inside-mexico.com/don-miguel-hidalgo/




Hernan Cortés




 Hernan Cortés, a true villain from Mexican 

history, was born in Medellín, Spain around 1485. He served in the Spanish military as a soldier and was sent on an expedition of Cuba led by Diego Velázquez in 1511. He, however, ignored his orders and instead 

traveled to Mexico in 1519. He had around 500 men with him amongst 11 ships.

His mission was to overthrow the ruler of the Aztec capital of Tenochitilán who was Montezuma II. This did not work out well for him and they were eventually driven from Tenochitilán. Cortés did not give up though and returned in 1521 to successfully defeat the natives and overtake the city. Seeking recognition from the Spanish royal court Cortés went on to fight Tlaxacan and Cholula warriors. He then made his mission to take over the Aztec empire.

Cortés took Montezuma hostage and then his soldiers began to raid Tenochitilán. He left the city quickly once he learned that due to his disobeying 

orders the Spanish troops were on their way to arrest him. When he returned to Tenochitilán he found that there was a rebellion going on. 

The Aztecs again succeeded to drive the Spanish out of their city. Cortés returned again though. He defeated them and took their city from them in 1521.

Greed is an awful thing and can take over someone’s life to eventually become their only driver. Taking the Aztecan empire was not enough for him and Cortés continued to seek out any gain of wealth and land. He sent more expeditions out into other areas still in the hunt for recognition and support from the Spanish royal court. Cortés died in 1547 in Spain.




Hernan Cortés - Exploration - HISTORY.com. (2017). HISTORY.com. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/exploration/hernan-cortes



Porfirio Diaz


 Porfirio Diaz was born September 15, 1830 in Oaxaca, Oaxaca. His ancestry was Creole and Mixtec which is referred to as Mestizo. His father was and humble innkeeper but died when Díaz was three years old. His mother did her best to keep the inn going after his father’s death but the business ended up failing. 

She sent Porfirio in 1843 to the Seminario Conciliar but realized quickly that the priesthood was not where his life’s mission was to be. 


He joined the local military in 1846. Porfirio had a dream of defending his country from invasion that was nearing from the intimidating United States. In 1850, Porfirio decided to study law at the Instituto de Ciencias y Artes. He had a very distinguished military career and had become colleagues with President Benito Juárez. Porfirio disliked his federal reforms and eventually went his own way. In 1876, after a rebellion, he became President.

Díaz quickly amended the constitution to allow two terms in office but also to remove all of the restrictions that had been placed on re-election. His presidency was not an honorable one. He manipulated votes and had opponents assassinated to maintain his power. There were few people that would oppose him because of this type of behavior.

 There was a phrase used to describe the way that he held his power. This phrase was “Pan, o palo” which meant that people could either accept what was given willingly or face the consequences which were nothing but severe.

There were many revolts against his administration over the three decades that he was in power. He undermined regional leaders power and made sure that the legislature was filled with people loyal to himself. He favored the Creoles and ignored the natives and their rights and needs. Diaz's rule did nothing to help Mexico become a more just society or attack the divide between races. The rich and powerful were the ones to benefit from his rule and it was usually at the cost of the less fortunate. He pushed industrialization in mining, oil, agriculture, and the railway. The economy definitely benefited but still only the rich and powerful gained anything from it.

In 1908, in an interview, Díaz discussed Mexico being ready for democracy and elections. He stated that he would step down and allow others to run for president. The first person that decided to run in the elections was, Bernardo Reyes, the governor of Nuevo León.  Despite his prior statements, Díaz sent Reyes on a mission to Europe This made it so that Reyes could not continue in the elections. Francisco I. Madero then announced his intent to run. Quickly Díaz had him jailed during the election in 1910 because he didn’t approve of him. The election still went on regardless of Madero being jailed. Díaz, unsurprisingly, was re-elected almost unanimously.

The electoral fraud on this large of a 


level quickly brought on anger amongst the people of Mexico. This was not the only negative thing going on at the time though because they were also in a food shortage. Madero began calling for revolution. The food shortage and Madero’s message about the electoral fraud became enough for the Mexican people and the Mexican Revolution began shortly after. Díaz was forced from office in 1911. He eventually fled Mexico and went to France. Díaz died in exile in Paris on July 2, 1915.



Porfirio Díaz - New World Encyclopedia. (2017). Newworldencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 19 November 2017, from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Porfirio_D%C3%ADaz





Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead):

A Mexican Ritual


November first of each year begins a multi-day celebration in Mexico. Día de los Muertos is a celebration of life and of death where families remember and commemorate their loved ones that have passed away. There are several traditions that come along with this yearly celebration.

There are alters that are constructed and decorated in bright, vibrant colors. They are usually constructed in the home but sometimes can be found at public buildings or at the gravesite of the loved one. These alters are then piled with flowers, candles, and sometimes personal possessions to honor those who have passed. Emblematic alters are also constructed where offerings are made by families with the hope of encouraging their loved ones to return home and hear their prayers. Children who have passed are usually offered candy and toys while adults are offered alcohol, cigarettes, symbolic items of their favorite things, and candles.


Mexican marigolds are used traditionally in this ritual as well. It is believed in the Mexican culture that these flowers help to guide the soul of a loved one back to the world of the living. These marigolds only bloom in rainy season which happens to be right before Día de los Muertos.

The tradition that most people outside of the Mexican culture identify with this holiday is the sugar skulls but not in the same manner. Sugar skulls are usually made or bought by the family. These skulls have the name of their deceased loved one written on the forehead. There are also chocolate skulls and biscuit skulls available where the name can be written on the forehead. There is an orange flavored bread that is made specifically for this tradition as well. 

The bread is all pan de muerto. The bread has a heavy coating of sugar on the outside of it and “bonelike” decorations on the top.

Día de los Muertos also brings gravesite vigils. This is one of the more iconic rituals in the Mexican culture. In some places on November second butterflies are taken to the cemeteries and the dead are honored. Grave cleaning also takes place. The area around the grave is cleaned up and an alter is constructed at the gravesite. When the grave cleaning and decorating is over it definitely resembles a place of celebration.

Calacas are another ritualistic part of Día de los Muertos. Calacas are colorful skeleton figurines that are decorated. They are dressed in fancy Mexican attire such as regal Mexican dresses. They are displayed outside for everyone to see.

 The Catrina parade is probably the most well-known part of this festival that the rest of the world knows about. People dress up as catrinas and take part in a parade. The people in the parade paint their faces like catrina skulls. They use colorful colors and accent their eyes and cheeks. They dress in Mexican attire that is appropriate for the parade tradition.

Last but certainly not least the tradition of sharing stories of your loved ones. They share funny stories in order to bring happy memories of their loved ones to light. Memories are shared amongst loved ones to honor and remember the deceased ones.

 I think that this is an amazing tradition. I love how once a year the Mexican culture honors their lost loved ones in so many different ways. I love how they share happy memories and stories of the people that they miss so dearly. I love how they spend so much attention to detail and vitality. I love the way that, rather than mourning, they choose to celebrate their loved one’s lives. It is so honorable. Their dedication to making Día de los Muertos such a colorful and vibrant day is amazing. I would love to be a part of this celebration.





Cocking, L. (2017). Exploring the Traditions of Mexico's Day of the DeadCulture Trip. Retrieved 20 November 2017, from https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/mexico/articles/day-of-the-dead-in-mexico-10-traditions-customs/



Members: Bryant Armistead, Christiyana Marks, Sarah Scrivner, Katherine Turpin, Xingfang Xie (Jubilee), Christina Yard Emanis

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.