Mexican Legends and Folklore: The Legend of Maize

For the people of Mexico, corn is not merely a crop, but a deep cultural symbol tied to daily life. This basic grain is a part of meal preparation, and is also the national heritage of a people who call themselves “children of the corn”. Corn does not exist naturally in the wild, and so must be planted and protected by humans. History is full of Mexican folklore, including the legend of maize.

Corn was first grown in Mexico between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago, and remains an important part of that country’s food preparation today. According to Mexican folklore, Quetzalcoatl, the god known as the feathered serpent, helped the Aztec people start their corn crop. In traditional Mexico, he is considered the god of learning, science, and agriculture.

Legend of Maize

As ancient legend tells the story, the Aztec people ate only game animals and roots before the god Quetzalcoatl arrived. Although corn existed, it was beyond the reach of the people, tucked behind the massive mountains that surrounded the city. Before this time, other gods had attempted to part the mountains to provide access to the food, but they were not successful.

This is when the Aztecs called upon Quetzalcoatl for help. They sent their holy men to ask the god for assistance in reaching the other side of the mountain. He assured the people that he would go and bring back corn not by using force, but intelligence. He transformed into a small black ant for the journey, taking along with him a red ant for company.

A God’s Difficult and Rewarding Journey

The journey was not easy, but Quetzalcoatl was able to overcome the challenge. In his mind, he kept thoughts of the Aztec people and what they needed, and he continued to move forward. Many days passed before the god arrived at the back of the mountain and found the corn. He took a piece of grain between his ant teeth and started back to the Aztec people. When he returned, he gave them the grain of corn to be planted.

From that day forward, the Aztec people were committed to cultivating and harvesting the corn plant. They became powerful and strong, full of riches and skill in building cities, palaces, and temples. This Mexican folklore paints Quetzalcoatl as the protector of people and a cultural hero.

Modern Day Mexican Dishes

The legend of maize provides us with an interesting perspective on corn’s beginnings. In our modern era, corn is found in almost every Mexican meal. This includes not only tortillas, but stews, tamales, and breads. Atole is a traditional hot beverage made with hot corn and masa. Husks are used during religious ceremonies and holiday celebrations throughout the year.

When you are looking for authentic Mexican food made from scratch, Benito’s is the place to go. From your favorite enchiladas to homemade tortilla soup, our menu offers a wide variety of delicious options for lunch and dinner.