Love for Mexico
Mexico's State Names are a Window into Mexican Culture May 14 2019, 0 Comments
By Julie R Butler
Do you know what the names of the Mexican states mean? Some honor important men, while most highlight the geography, natural resources, or people of the region in vivid terms. The majority of them derive from indigenous languages. And with the origins of many being obscured by time, there’s a touch mystery and magic attached to today’s familiar Mexican state names.
Mexican States Named After People or Distant Places
Guerrero is named after Vicente Guerrero, a leader of the Mexican War of Independence.
Hidalgo honors war hero and Father of the Nation Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.
Morelos honors José María Morelos y Pavón, a brilliant military strategist and organizer during the struggle for independence.
Andrés Quintana Roo was an influential politician, lawyer, and author during the Mexican War of Independence.
San Luis Potosí honors Louis IX of France – and invokes the rich silver mines of Potosí in Bolivia for good luck.
Durango was named after a town in the Basque Country of Spain.
Nuevo León honors the Spanish Kingdom of León.
Mexican State Names with European Origins
Aguascalientes gets its name from the hot springs in the area.
California may come from the Latin calida fornax, “hot furnace.” Or, it could trace back to the 11th-century epic poem Song of Roland about the battles of Charlemagne.
The capital city of Puebla was originally called “Puebla de los Ángeles,” after Bishop Julián Garcés had a vision of angels descending from heaven to design the new city.
Upon arriving in Mexico on Good Friday of the year 1519, Hernán Cortéz dedicated the city now called Veracruz to the “True Cross” by naming it “Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz.”
Mexican State Names Originating from Nahuatl
Chiapas comes from Nahuatl chia (chia seeds) and apan (river), creating the name they gave the ancient Mayan city of Chiapan.
Chihuahua may derive from the Nahuatl word xicuahua and mean “dry and sandy place,” or come from other words meaning “between two rivers” or “the place of the perforated rock.”
Coahuila seems to combine the Nahuatl words coatl (serpent) and huila (to fly). An alternative theory is that it comes from quautli (trees) and la (abundance), for the pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre Oriental.
Colima derives from the Nahuatl colimán (old mountain or volcano) and maitli (where the old god rules).
Jalisco comes from the Nahuatl xālixco, “sandy place.”
Mexico originates from the Nahuatl mexitli, meaning “navel of the moon.” The words metztli (moon), xictli (naval), and co (place) refer to the island city-state of Tenochtitlan on Lake Texcoco.
Michoacán, the home of the Purépechas and Lake Pátzcuaro, has a Nahuatl name that comes from the words mich (fish), hua (to have), and can (place).
Oaxaca derives from the Nahuatl word huāxyacac, the name for Leucaena leucocephala trees found around Oaxaca City that produce an edible pod called guaje.
Tlaxcala likely originates from the Nahuatl word tlaxcallān, “place of maize tortillas.”
Zacatecas comes from Nahuatl zacatēcah, “place of abundant grass.”
Mexican State Names Deriving from Other Indigenous Languages
Campeche is named after the Mayan city of Can Pech. The literal translation from Mayan means “snake and tick,” although it could also mean “place of Señor Sun Tick.”
Tabasco was the Mayan name of a river in the region, according to the chronicles of Bernal Díaz del Castillo.
Yucatán appears to actually come from Tobasco, where the Chontal Maya people, who call themselves Yokot’an, are from.
Guanajuato originates from Purépecha quianax (frog) and huasta (hill), describing the shape of the low, gentle mountains of the region.
Querétaro likely comes from the Purépecha word créttaro, “craggy place.”
The Cora people of Nayarit call themselves Náayerite in honor of one of their leaders.
Sinaloa probably comes from the Cáhita people of the region, with sina and lobola meaning “round pitahaya,” the bright red fruit of a cactus that grows there.
While there are legends about Sonora having to do with the word “señora,” historians believe it comes from the Opata word xunut or sonot (corn) and means “place of the corn.”
Tamaulipas comes from Huasteca, with the word tamaholipa translating to either “high mountains” or “place of much prayer.”
Celebrating Mexico’s Diversity
As you’ve seen each Mexican state name celebrates in some way the vibrant flavors, traditions, cultures, or history of the diverse people of Mexico.
Culture, Beaches, Nature, Sports - Mexico Has Something for Everyone March 20 2019, 0 Comments
By Julie R Butler
Shoptezuma is all about how great Mexico is; and one of my favorite things about Mexico is the access to parks, beaches, and awesome natural splendor as well as vibrant urban centers, a hoppin’ sports scene, and all kinds of intriguing historical and artistic cultural treasures.
Multilayered Mexican Culture
I love that the cultural atmosphere throughout Mexico has many layers, with a contiguous human history that reaches thousands of years back in time, the colonial influence, lots of different indigenous communities that continue to honor their traditions, and the various regional customs, foods, and music – all coexisting with the vibrancy of modern-day Mexican life.
Mexico’s Rich Heritage
Consider this: The United States is almost five times larger than Mexico in terms of land area, yet Mexico has 35 UNESCO World Heritage sites, while the United States only has 23. From pre-Hispanic archaeological sites to the many colonial city centers, from the tequila-producing region of Jalisco to the tropical forests of Campeche, from monarch butterflies in Michoacán to the whale sanctuary on the Baha Peninsula – these amazing sites showcase the diverse historic and natural heritage of Mexico.
In addition to these sites, UNESCO lists 10 Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity items from Mexico, including things like charrería, mariachi music, and traditional Mexican cuisine.
Mexico’s Biological and Geographic Diversity
When it comes to biodiversity by country, Mexico ranks 5th, while the United States ranks 12th.
An astounding amount of different types of plants and animals inhabit Mexico, and it’s because of the country’s unique geography: Mexico spreads from the desert north to tropical jungles of the south; the country is very mountainous, so the different altitudes add to the variety of climates and environments; and there are hundreds of kilometers of coastline along both sides that are lined with gorgeous beaches. All of this adds up to a wide variety of different natural settings to enjoy. And wherever you are, you’re never too far from a chillaxing beach vacation.
Mexico’s Vibrant Urban Centers
As for urban centers, there is no city in the world that’s more dynamic Mexico City. But if CDMX is a bit too much city for you, there are less hectic cities such as Guadalajara, Oaxaca, Morelia, Guanajuato, Monterrey, Puebla, and León, each with its own distinctive character, and all of which are still bursting at the seams with everything from restaurants, museums, theaters, and sports venues to buzzing business districts, intriguing historical centers, beautiful parks, and plenty of bustling shopping areas and markets to lose yourself in.
When you need to escape all the hustle and bustle of urban life, there are plenty of options, ranging from parks and gardens in the heart of the city to over sixty national parks spread across the country to the fabulous Yucatan and Pacific Coast and beaches. These are some of the standouts:
- Bosque de Chapultepec, CDMX
- Sumidero Canyon National Park, Chiapas
- Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Quintana Roo
- Palenque National Park, Chiapas
- Puerto Vallarta
- Los Cabos
- Playa del Carmen
The Mexican Passionate for Sports
Another thing I really love about Mexico is the passionate for sports. Of course, Mexican fútbol fans are renowned for their enthusiasm. But that’s not the only sport that has a fervent fan base in Mexico. Other international sports such as béisbol and boxeo are huge, as are uniquely Mexican popular sports like lucha libre and frontenis. And the traditional Mexican sports of toreo and charrería are also quite alive and well.
Something for Everyone
So whether you’re a beach bum, a city slicker, a nature lover, a culture buff, or a sports enthusiast, Mexico has something for everyone!