On September 29th, the country of Mexico commemorates the National and International Day of Maize (Corn).
The cultivation of maize is one of the most important and representative of Mexico. In Mexico, is most probably concentrated the greatest diversity of maize in the world.
Maize is an important part of the worldview of the native peoples of Mexico. It is an enduring aspect of Mexican cultural and symbolic identity, an important part of tangible and intangible Mexican heritage.
In recognition of its relevance, AllMexico.store highlights the variety and relevance of traditional maize (corn) in Mexico, with the intention of recognizing the relevant role it plays as a basic sustenance, in the cultural sense, in the economy, and in the lives of Mexicans.
What is Maize?
Maize, also known as corn, is a large grain plant first domesticated by Indigenous peoples in Mexico about 10,000 years ago.
Mexico is the center of the origin of maize (corn)
Archaeological remains of maize plants, estimated to date from approximately eight to ten thousand years ago, were found in the 1960’s. Additional evidence of the processes that led Indigenous peoples to dominate in the cultivation of maize, have been found in the caves of Coxcatlán, Ajalpan. This place of origin of maize in Mexico is located in the municipality of Poblano de Coxcatlán, in the Tehuacán Valley, in the southeastern region of present-day Mexico.
Mexico is the center of origin of maize. The domestication of teocintle was the axis of the culture of multiple indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica.
So important is maize in Mexico, that it was exclusively represented by the deity, Cintéotl, the personified Mexica god.
In Mesoamerica, the maize varieties mostly used were: white, black, red and yellow.
In Mexico, there are many maize varieties.
Photo credit: AllMexico.store
There are more than 60,000 native breeds and varieties, according to research conducted.
Start of International Day of Maize (corn)
In 2003, a major exhibition was held at the National Museum of Popular Cultures in Mexico. The exhibition was called Without Maize No Country. It was the start of a national campaign and protection of native maize.
In 2007, various member organizations of the Without Maize No Country campaign declared September 29th as National Day of Maize.
In the years 2008-2009, the federal government defined the rules for the planting of transgenic maize (corn). The rules were published in the Regulation of the Law on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms. This Law is currently in force.
In 2009, the celebration of National Day of Maize emerged. Inspired by the traditional celebrations of families of the first maize harvest, it was also in accordance with one of the most important festivals for the communities. In Mexico, the feast of San Miguel Arcángel (Saint Michael Archangel), who symbolically protects the milpa, is celebrated September 29th.
In the years 2016-2017, the exhibition La Milpa, espacio y tiempo Sagrado was presented at the National Museum of Popular Cultures in Mexico.
The International/National Day of Maize is considered an effort in favor of the traditional ways of producing maize, from their diversity and sustainability; as well as to protest the abandonment of the countryside.
It is an occasion to endorse the commitment to protect native maize and the milpa.
Protection of Maize
In 2020, the Mexican Federal Law for the Promotion and Protection of Native Mazie (Corn) was published in the Official Gazette of the Mexican Federation. This law aims to recover maize as the heritage of Mexicans, recognize its national production, trade and consumption, and protect and promote Native Maize and its Constant Diversification.
In Mexico, it is estimated that annually 30 million tons of maize are used for direct consumption. 40 percent of maize production comes from diverse and small native crops, and about a third of extensive crops from northern Mexico. In Mexico, the states with the most maize production are Guerrero, Sinaloa and Jalisco.
To protect maize seeds is to defend the future of food of indigenous peoples. The value of protecting ancient practices is to defend the people, biodiversity and many species of maize throughout the Mexican territory. The various member organizations advocate for native maize seeds, for defense of ancestral knowledge and traditional practices, and for the right to remain owners of the seeds that ancestral peoples have inherited.
The protection of maize is defense of food sovereignty.
To defend native maize (corn) seeds is to defend life and the environment. In the use of transgenic maize seeds, toxic agrochemicals are applied, and monoculture practices are carried out that erode the soil. This has caused serious damage to the environment, to people’s health, to identities and community life.
Use of Maize in Mexico
Maize has many uses in Mexico; there at least 600 ways to prepare maize in the diet have been identified in Mexico.
The leaves (totomoxtle), ears (élotl) and grains (cintle) of maize are used in hundreds of different ways.
Once maize is nixtamalized (cooked with lime), it is turned into masa (dough). It is then transformed into tortillas, tacos, tamales, panuchos, esquites of all forms, molotes, quesadillas, sopes, chalupas, tostadas, tlacoyos, huaraches, memelas, peneques, picadas, enchiladas, chilaquiles, salbutes, tecocos, tecoyotes, balls of masa in mole de olla and in yellow mole.
Whole kernels of maize are used in soups such as pozole and menudo.
Ground maize is used in drinks such as pozol, tejate, taxcalate, pinole and atole.
Fermented corn is used in beverages such as tesgüino, chicha, and tepache.
Traditional Mexican cuisine encompasses community, ancestral, and popular culture. An example is the gastronomy of Michoacán, a state located in the western part of Mexico. Here is where most of the communities of the P’urhépecha people are located. The P’urhépecha cuisine is a cuisine that maintains recipes of pre-Hispanic times, with the basis of corn, beans and chili peppers, three of the fundamental foods in the diet of Mexicans.
In 2005, Mexico submitted the file “Pueblo de Maíze to UNESCO, which included the ancestral cuisine of Mexico, with rites, ceremonies and cultural practices of the cuisine of Mexico.
In 2010, Mexican gastronomy was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Maize Events in Mexico
Ways to celebrate the International Day of Maize include various events. Maize (corn) celebrations and events take place in different parts of Mexico, in which products derived from maize are marketed.
Mexican products that can be found in these fairs include pinole, handmade tortillas, pozole, esquites, tamales, chileatole, tlacoyos, maize water, handicrafts made with maize leaves, and more.
These events encourage the consumption of Mexican products made from maize.
In Mexico City, in the municipality of San Miguel Topilejo, an annual fair takes place that coincides with the dates of harvest of maize in this region.
In the state of Morelos, an annual festival takes place.
We invite you to celebrate this day.
The first fall harvest of maize in Mexico is usually in September.
Maize is harvested along with other crops.
Government of Mexico
Coordinación Nacional de Antropología: Nuestra planta maravillosa Centli (Our marvelous plant Centli)