Mexican Culture


Basic Etiquette

  • People are expected to pay 10-15% as a tip after a service has been performed.
  • It is polite to say “Salud” when someone sneezes. This literally translates as “health” but means the equivalent of “bless you”.
  • If you cannot avoid momentarily interrupting a conversation, it is polite to say, “Con permiso” (Excuse me) before speaking up.
  • Men commonly open doors and offer seats for women.
  • Men are typically expected to pay for all meals when out dining, even if a female was the one to initially extend the invitation.
  • Always take the time to say goodbye to someone properly before leaving. A hasty exit can imply that you did not enjoy their company.
  • Show heightened respect to those that are noticeably older than yourself. Give way to them in public, and allow them to be served first or take your seat if all are full.
  • Do not toss someone an object to pass it to them. Hand it to them directly and respectfully.



  • Good friends may visit one another without giving prior notice. In other circumstances, an invitation is generally expected.
  • If invited to a social function in Mexico, you are often welcome to bring friends or family unless the host has specifically made clear that it is a closed event. 
  • The point of one’s visit is generally to converse and socialise. 
  • It is not essential to bring things when visiting Mexicans. People are generally more interested in your company and conversation than what gifts you bring. However, it is common for female guests to bring a salad or dessert to a dinner while male guests usually bring alcohol.
  • Mexicans have a reputation for being hospitable. They generally wish for their guests to sit back and relax whilst they accommodate for the visit. However, it is polite to ask to assist the host to cook and clean up.
  • It is considered very impolite to refuse refreshments outright. If you are offered something by your host, you can politely decline the offer by saying “ahorita” (literally translating as “right now”). This means ‘not right now, but maybe later’ and is a far more polite way to refuse an item. 
  • Do not leave directly after a meal has been served. It is expected that guests will stay to converse for a while after.
  • Make sure you say a thorough goodbye before leaving someone’s house. Everyone usually embraces before departing. Sometimes goodbyes can be quite prolonged from the time that someone actually announces his or her departure.
  • It is important to call or text your Mexican counterpart when you get home to let them know that you arrived safely. You can expect them to send a message asking if you are okay if you forget.



  • Use every opportunity to compliment Mexican food, whether you like it or not. Mexicans are extremely proud of their cuisine and find it very endearing when foreigners show a similar appreciation.
  • If you do not have a good tolerance for spicy (picante) food, tell your Mexican counterpart. Many meals are made up of multiple components that have varying degrees of chilli in them. Most Mexicans will be understanding and you on which salsas to avoid. Corn chips or tortillas are usually served with spicy dishes to relieve the sensation.
  • Lunch (comida) is the main meal of the day in Mexico. It is eaten in the afternoon. Dinner (cena) is smaller meal. Some children may have a light snack at night – known as ‘merienda’.
  • If eating street food, one usually consumes what they have bought in front of the stand where it was purchased.
  • If seated at a table, keep both hands visible above the tabletop.
  • Mexicans may eat certain traditional foods with their hands instead of utensils. For example, it is common to use tortillas to scoop food.
  • Western Mexican food often uses hard-shell tacos. However, this is generally not traditional in Mexico unless eating ‘fried tacos’ in which the tortilla wrap is deep-fried until it’s hard.
  • Very few Mexicans are vegetarians. Therefore, you will need to be explicit if you have dietary requirements.
  • Expect meals to last quite a long time, especially if there are multiple dishes and servings. Mexicans prefer to socialise over meals, and do not like to be rushed when eating.
  • Ask to be excused before leaving a table momentarily.
  • It is common for alcohol to be served with dinner when guests are present.
  • The most popular alcoholic drink is beer. Many Mexicans also like a famous Mexican spirit known as ‘mezcal’. This is a spirit that is served in a shot glass and sipped slowly. Mexicans often have a beer at the same time and sip one after the other intermittently.
  • People toast their drinks by yelling “Salud!” (Health).
  • If someone of the opposite gender invites you to dinner in Mexico, it is usually interpreted as a potentially romantic gesture. Ask for your friends, associates or partner to join the meal in order to reduce the chances of a misunderstanding.


Gift Giving

  • Gifts are often given on special occasions, such as birthdays, Christmas and Mother’s or Father’s Day. They may also be given to expectant mothers.
  • A girl’s 15th birthday is a pivotal occasion called ‘quinceañera’. It is expected that she receive very grand gifts.
  • In some areas of rural Mexico, people may serenade each other to show their love and gratitude.
  • Gifts are usually opened upon receiving them and are enthusiastically praised in front of the person who presented them.
  • If giving someone flowers, avoid buying marigolds as they symbolise death. Red flowers can also have negative connotations. Some believe they cast spells. However, white flowers have positive connotations and are thought to lift spells.
  • You may give gifts out of gratitude (for example, to a host, business partner or a secretary). However, if the person is of the opposite gender, it is best to say that the gift is from your husband/wife to avoid it being interpreted as a romantic gesture.

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