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The Mayans of Today
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The Mayans, in spite of time’s passage, have preserved many of their ancient traditions and beliefs.

Misiones - Chetumal - Cancun
Each community has its own characteristic dress, always brilliantly colored.
Today’s Mayans live within the boundaries of the old Mayan empire which comprised the nations of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and the five Mexican states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo. The population numbers between 4 and 5 million inhabitants. Mayans live in palapas, houses made of straw and adobe. Farmers grow corn, beans, chiles, tomatoes, and chayote (a type of vegetable) using slash and burn agriculture; families usually have an orchard where they grow oranges and papayas. The Yucatán Peninsula’s most traditional Mayan communities are concentrated in an isolated area located in the center of Quintana Roo.

Every Mayan community has its own traditional dress which distinguishes it from the surrounding towns; these dresses and suits are
Sacerdote dando Comunión a mujeres indígenas.
Many have discovered the love of Jesus Christ through missionaries.
usually hand-sewn and embroidered by the women, who use brilliant colors and an unending variety of designs to create their community’s distinctive style. The most beautiful outfits are kept for religious festivals, the most important of which is the local patron saint’s day. Traditional music and dance, as well as processions, are all part of the celebrations, which can last a week. Traditional dishes, ornately arranged, are also prepared, and the food and drink is abundant.

Mayans have preserved, in spite of time’s passage and the influence of the Spanish conquistadores, many of their ancient traditions and beliefs. Spanish missionaries, however, were able to convert many to Roman Catholicism and to eliminate human sacrifice. More than 30 languages exist among the different ethnic groups of the indigenous Mayans. Many Mayans speak Spanish in addition to their native tongue.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2002-04-26


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