Mexicans spend more on parties and celebrations

Mexicans spend up to a third of their income; religious and civic festivities are added to family celebrations. Christmas and national holidays are the ones they spend the most money on.

Mexicans spend more on parties and celebrations
A greater proportion of Mexican income is spent on festivities.

Mexicans are known worldwide for their festive nature. And this is demonstrated by what they spend on parties and celebrations, which, according to a study conducted by Francisco Javier Fonseca Corona, a researcher at the Institute of Economic Research (IIEc) of the UNAM, can be at least 40,482 pesos per year on average.

This amount, which seems significant, is an approximation since it could be higher. "That is the minimum because there are people who celebrate 15 years, weddings, or other events that may occur only once in a lifetime, and these expenses, of which there is no record, are usually huge."

A researcher at the university did a study that was published in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies. In it, he found that there is a recurrent expense of about 28,470 pesos per year for celebrations that are registered periodically, such as in discotheques or nightclubs, or communal positions of "mayordomos" for local celebrations of patron saints in towns and neighborhoods and that there is another expense for events that are not registered periodically.

In a typical urban household with an average income of 221,980 pesos per year, the total amount spent on celebrations is 40,482 pesos, which is about 18.24 percent, or about one-fifth, of the average annual income.

The case is more dramatic in rural households because they have a lower income, which, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), is 120,644 pesos a year on average; if we compare it with the expenditure on celebrations, "we would be talking about a little more than a third of the household income," warned the expert.

The university professor said, "We must remember that most people use celebrations to boost their social status." "This is often how families show off their wealth, influence, and sometimes even political power."

Mexican Festivities: An Approach from Household Spending Behavior

The research for Mexican Festivities: An Approach from Household Spending Behavior, according to the author, arose from readings such as Octavio Paz's The Labyrinth of Solitude, which dedicated a chapter to the subject."He intuitively realized the large amount of money that is spent on parties, and that is a cultural factor."

Mexicans are not the only "pachangueros"; there are other cultures that are as well. "I found cases, such as in India, where in some villages or towns a typical household spends more or less seven times its annual income on the marriage of a daughter, and cases where parents get into massive debts with the interest of over 200 percent."

Another example is in Senegal, Africa, where it is not uncommon for poor peasants to give away food during marriages, circumcisions, or burials.

In Mexico, in pre-Hispanic times, there were a large number of ceremonies filled with music, dance, and human sacrifices to the gods. Johanna Broda, an academic at UNAM's Institute of Historical Research, who was quoted in the article, points out that in Mesoamerica, the calendar was divided into 18 months of 20 days each; each month had a main feast and minor ceremonies.

When the Spanish took over, there were new reasons to celebrate. The Catholic religion tried to replace the native rituals, which led to the creation of patron saints in towns, neighborhoods, and cities. Different ways of honoring the Virgin Mary and saints also began to be celebrated, which is an example of syncretism. Later came the heroic deeds, first the independence and then the foreign invasions of the country; then other civic celebrations began.

Some are national, such as the Day of the Dead; then, in addition to the local ones, there are those of each family: a son graduating, a daughter turning 15, and a wedding. And then there is Children's Day, Mason's Day, and so on. There is no lack of pretexts to

To carry out this research, an important effort was made over several months because there is no official record of what Mexicans spend on parties. The main sources of information used were data from the Federal Consumer Protection Agency, "which conducts some surveys and asks how much is spent on gifts for the girlfriend or boyfriend on Valentine's Day, or decorations or gift exchanges for Christmas," and the National Survey of Household Income and Expenditures of INEGI (Encuesta Nacional de Ingresos y Gastos de los Hogares del INEGI).

The occasions on which Mexicans spend the most money are Christmas, followed by national holidays, carnivals (which take place over several days), and, to a lesser extent, New Year's Day.

There are new festivities promoted by large commercial chains. "There has always been a Day of the Dead, but after the filming of a foreign movie, a catrinas parade began to take place in Mexico City, and all of this generates an economic benefit and income for

If what we spend on parties were reallocated to priority issues such as food, health, or education, it would raise the standard of living for Mexicans, said the researcher.

However, he acknowledged, we cannot eliminate them because "they are part of our culture; we carry them inside us." But what we can do is try to teach people to find a balance between social life and personal and family finances. We can party based on a good budget, calculated according to our income or financial capabilities. We have every right to have fun, but if that generates an imbalance and we spend more than we earn, we will end up in debt, and that harms our future and that of our family.

Balancing Essential and Non-Essential Expenses

How much should we spend? Fonseca Corona recommended using the empirical rule called 50-20-30, suggested by several experts in personal and family finances, which consists of allocating 50 percent of our income to cover the essential expenses of the family or person, that is, housing, food, utilities, and transportation to work.

Twenty percent goes to financial objectives, such as savings (opening a bank account, for example, or simply filling the "piggy bank"), investments, or debt payments; and the remaining 30 percent is for flexible spending or non-essential expenses, such as celebrations. We will have a good financial balance if we do not exceed this percentage.

The same rule applies to the Christmas bonus, but the expert said that if we get one, we should save it along with other bonuses or incentives and reach other short- and long-term goals that way.