Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sydney from Rosenberg , TX. Sydney Wonders, “What are some beliefs and traditions that Mexicans have?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sydney!

Do you love Mexican food? Mexican restaurants are popular all throughout the United States. Whether you're hungry for tortilla chips and salsa, a burrito, a couple tacos, a quesadilla, a chalupa, or a chimichanga, you're sure to find many things on the menu to tempt your taste buds.

Many people love the festive atmosphere of most Mexican restaurants. They're the perfect place for a fiesta to celebrate any happy occasion. You might especially enjoy going to a Mexican restaurant for your birthday, since you can enjoy your fried ice cream or sopapillas while you wear a sombrero!

Sombreros are large hats that you'll often find hanging along the walls of a Mexican restaurant. They've long been associated with the cultures of Mexico and the southwestern United States. More than a party favor, though, they were developed long ago with a very practical purpose in mind.

The sombrero takes its name from the Spanish word sombra, which means shade or shadow. This makes sense when you realize that the high crown and broad rim of the sombrero was specifically designed to protect the head and neck and most of the shoulders from harsh sunlight.

Hats similar to the sombrero have been traced back to the Mongolians of the 13th century. The modern sombrero we associate with Mexico likely developed in the Mexican state of Jalisco in the 15th century.

Farmers and peasants usually wore sombreros made of straw, while wealthier gentlemen often wore sombreros made of white, gray, or tan felt. Some sombreros even featured various decorations, such as beads, feathers, sequins, braids, and colorful threads.

The sombrero became popular with many different types of people because it was so functional. For example, ranchers and explorers in the southwestern United States often wore sombreros, and some historians believe they eventually modified the sombrero into what we now know as the modern cowboy hat.

Sombreros were also popular with the charros (horsemen) of Guadalajara, who made it part of their customary outfit. Likewise, the Mariachi (folk musicians) also adopted the sombrero as part of their traditional costume.

Through adoption by various segments of society, the sombrero became an important part and symbol of Mexican culture. It's even memorialized in the traditional Mexican Hat Dance. This historic dance tells the story of a young man who gives up his most valuable possession — his sombrero — to win the affection of the girl he loves.

Wonder What's Next?

Join us in Wonderopolis tomorrow for an up-close look at a famous American Indian!