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Lesson Transcript

Culture File: Mexico - Lesson 13: The Serenades
Hello, and welcome to the Culture File: Mexico series at SpanishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring essential cultural information about Mexico, Mexican Culture, and Mexican People. In this lesson, we will talk about Mexican folklore and traditions. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 13 - The Serenades
Serenades, or "serenatas", are musical performances held in someone’s honor, typically in honor of a friend, family member, or girlfriend. This custom was started during the Medieval era in Europe, at which time serenades were performed by a single person singing while playing the guitar, or "guitarra".
During the Baroque era, this custom evolved into an act involving two or more singers performing outdoors, typically in the evening after the sun had set. During this phase, other instruments such as trumpets, horns and drums were also introduced to accompany the playing of the guitar.
This beautiful tradition is still alive today in Latin American countries such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia, and Argentina. In Mexico, men will hire a group of musicians, or "grupo musical", bring them to the residence of their loved one, and sing to her outside under her window or balcony accompanied by the group of musicians as a way of expressing his love. This isn’t just a tradition for lovers, though; it's also common to serenade mothers as a way to wish them a happy birthday, in Spanish "feliz cumpleaños", or to celebrate them on Mother’s Day on May 10.
The purpose of this custom is to wake the receiver of the serenade up with a special song, or "canción", that expresses the man’s feelings towards her, and hopefully touches her heart. If the girl comes out to her balcony to receive the serenade or appears at her window to watch it, it means that she is pleased with the surprise. Better yet, if her family approves of the man’s display of affection, he may be invited in for a chat and a cup of coffee.
In downtown Mexico City, there’s a famous plaza where serenading musical groups can be hired at all times, called Plaza Garibaldi. If you don't have enough money to hire a whole band then this is a good place to know, because you can take your girlfriend, mom, or friend to the plaza to receive a serenade there at a slightly cheaper rate instead.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever heard a traditional Mexican serenade?
Leave a comment telling us at SpanishPod101.com! Until next time!

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Have you ever heard a traditional Mexican serenade?