Viva Mexico on Mexican Independence Day
Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is not Mexican Independence Day although it honors Mexico’s victory in The Battle of Puebla years after independence was won. Mexican Independence Day (Día de la Independencia) is officially September 16th with festivities beginning the evening of Setpember 15th. In Mexico, the entire month of September – el Mes de la Patria (month of the homeland) – is cause to celebrate, and this year (2011), Mexicans celebrate 201 years of independence from Spanish rule.
Beginning in September, Mexico’s towns and cities are bedecked with Mexican flags and every kind of decor in colors of green (representing independence), white (representing religion), and red (representing union). Families, communities, and establishments prepare authentic Mexican specialties, including finger foods (antojitos), Mole Poblano, Chiles en Nogada, ponche, and other goodies.
Late on the evening on September 15th, all over the country, official celebrations kick off. Mexicans come together in their town squares (zócalos) dressed in the flag colors of green, white, and red; the indigenous garb of their Indian heritage; or traditional Mexican costumes with men dressed as Charros and women as Chinas Poblanas.
They indulge in cervezas, tequila, and Mexican food, awaiting the official start of the holiday, which begins with a short patriotic announcement from a local political representative. This is a reenactment of Father Hidalgo’s El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores), also El Grito de la Independencia (Cry of Independence), that rallied his followers in Dolores, Guanajuato to stand up to Spain.
Brief Mexican History
Before Mexico existed as we know it today, it was a region dominated by the Aztecs and other Indian civilizations and identified as pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. In 1521, Spanish conquistadors invaded and claimed the land, naming it ‘New Spain.’ For 300 years, Spain ruled with an oppressive hand, but after a 10-year battle, Mexico finally won its much-deserved independence on September 16th, 1821.
It all began on September 16th, 1810, with a Catholic priest, Father Miguel Hidalgo, when he delivered his acclaimed “grito” (cry), which launched a one-year revolt that evolved into the Mexican War of Independence, the most celebrated national holiday in Mexico. This honorable man sacrificed his life for the country, eventually being executed by his oppressors.
But the fight for independence was continued by another priest, Father Jose Maria Morelos, who was instrumental in implementing the first pronouncement of separation from Spanish rule. On November 1813, the Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America granted equal rights to all Mexicans. Unfortunately, he too was executed. As a result of their contributions, Mexicans recognize Hidalgo as the father of Mexico and Morelos as a national hero.
The country’s independence was finally achieved in September 1821 when the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, announcing Mexico as an independent nation, was signed in Mexica (once home of the Aztec empire). This is where the country’s name was born, arising from the Aztec Nahuatl language, Mēxihco, and evolving into México from the Spanish language. Officially proclaimed as the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos), this resilient country celebrates its independence every year on September 16th.
Independence Day Celebrations
As with most Mexican events, this holiday is celebrated with gusto and begins on the eve of September 15th at 11:00 p.m. in zócalos (town squares) across Mexico. A local official rings the symbolic liberty bell while delivering a patriotic address to the masses that ends in a cry for Mexicans to unite. Representing Father Hidalgo’s “grito,” the crowd replies, “Viva Mexico” and “Viva la independencia” with a burst of fireworks as they sing their national anthem.
The festivities continue with carnivals, parades, mariachi music, folk dances, bullfights, rodeos, and more delicious Mexican food and drinks on September 16th. On Mexico’s Pacific coast, the charming beach towns along the Riviera Nayarit celebrate with their own traditional flair. If you’re fortunate to be taking a Mexico vacation on Mexican Independence Day, it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate national values that Mexico – and fellow countries – cherish: liberty and unity.
¡Viva la libertad! (Long live freedom!)
Join the Mexican Independence Day festivities in the Riviera Nayarit, Mexico, and enjoy this special occasion!