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 mariachi mexico unesco united nations cultural patrimony

Photo by cesar.vita

Mexico once more made the UNESCO (United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture) Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, but this time with Mariachi, string music, song and trumpet.

According to the UNESCO, the list is “made up of those intangible heritage practices and expressions which help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance.”

We can all pretty much agree mariachi music fits the bill perfectly as it is one cultural expression born in Mexico which has transcended generations to become a symbol and cultural representation of this nation worldwide. Even so much so, the symbol of the mariachi can be easily overused to the point of it being cliché when trying to capture the spirit of México.

The UNESCO´s list defines strong criteria to be inscribed and they concluded that “Mariachi music transmits values of respect for the natural heritage of the regions of Mexico and local history in the Spanish language and the different Indian languages of Western Mexico.”

It’s fascinating that Mariachi music is normally handed down from generations to generations with no music sheets or formal training. Most musicians learn the trade from family members and by performing on stage. The genre of the songs span from variations of polka, corridos, jarabes tapatíos, waltzes and even romantic serenades.

The image of most mariachis is well-associated with the greats like Vicente Fernandez and Pedro Infante which convey the Mexican machista and oh-so-romantic male. The lyrics of a great Mariachi song are full with promises of love, pride for México “lindo y querido,” and individual regions and life in the country.

In honesty, this recognition by the UNESCO is a beautiful way to make it official that Mariachi music is yet one more of Mexico´s heritages to humanity (previous six ones include its food and the Day of the Dead celebration), but the reality is that mariachi music has long ago crossed borders and captured the souls and sensibilities of many across the world.

In fact, Mexico´s Cultural Ministry has announced it´s already planning a celebration to follow this recognition which will include a 24-hour mariachi marathon in the 150 countries where Mexico has embassies and consulates.

To get your fix on some of the most renown modern-day and traditional Mariachi bands and singers, check out:

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my work in creating and managing content as a Community Manager for the México Today Program. All stories, opinions and passion for all things México shared here and everywhere are completely my own.

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