¡Viva México! Everything to Know About Mexican Independence Day
Tacos sizzling on the grill, mariachi tunes setting the mood, and the streets of Mexico painted with red, white, and green... Mexican Independence Day is almost here!
From September 15th to 16th, Mexico turns up the volume—literally and metaphorically—as the country celebrates their ancestors' freedom from Spanish rule. Grab your sombreros and fiesta vibes as we dive into the history of Mexican Independence Day, traditions of the holiday, and how you can celebrate.
Why We Celebrate Mexican Independence Day
Mexican Independence Day celebrates Mexico's liberation from Spanish colonial rule. The War of Independence, which lasted more than 11 years, was an extremely popular revolution of the Mexican people. Thousands of indigenous people, Afro-descendants, mulattoes, mestizos, peasants, miners, ranchers, men and women joined the ranks. Following the priest Miguel Hidalgo, the Mexican revolutionaries formed an army that put an end to Spain's domination over most of Mexico's territories and dismantled an oppressive and exclusionary social system.
Why Do We Celebrate Mexico's Independence on September 15th and 16th?
Mexico gained independence from Spain on September 27th, 1821, but we don't celebrate Mexican Independence Day on September 27th. Instead, we begin our celebrations on September 15th.
On the early morning of September 16th, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo delivered the "Grito de Dolores" (Cry of Dolores), which marked the beginning of the War of Independence. The Grito de Dolores represents the moment when the people of Mexico began to rise up against Spanish colonial rule. While Mexico didn't achieve full independence until 11 years after Miguel Hidalgo delivered the Grito de Dolores, the event became a powerful symbol of the nation's struggle for freedom.
Celebrating on September 15th and 16 has become a long-standing tradition in Mexico, woven into our country's national identity. Essentially, celebrating Mexican Independence Day on September 15th and 16th is about honoring the historical roots of the nation's fight for freedom, rather than marking the exact moment of achieving full independence. The Grito de Dolores serves as a unifying and patriotic event that allows Mexicans to reflect on their history and come together to celebrate their shared heritage.
Is Mexican Independence Day the same as Cinco de Mayo?
One question we often get about Mexican Independence Day is if it's the same as Cinco de Mayo. Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo are two separate holidays, each with its own historical significance and reasons for celebration.
Like we mentioned above, Mexican Independence Day marks the beginning of Mexico's fight for independence from Spanish colonial rule. It's a major holiday in Mexico, celebrated with great enthusiasm. Many events take place, like the reenactment of the Grito de Dolores by public officials, parades, fireworks, traditional music and dance performances, and other festivities. The colors of the Mexican flag (green, white, and red) are prominently displayed.
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on May 5th (as you probably know!) and commemorates the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. During this battle, Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza successfully defended the city of Puebla against the French army, which was much larger and better-equipped than the Mexican army.
The Battle of Puebla was a significant victory for Mexico during the French intervention in Mexico, a conflict that followed a period of internal turmoil and foreign debt. The Battle of Puebla wasn't the final victory over the French, as the intervention continued for several more years.
While Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico, its significance there is primarily observed in the state of Puebla. However, it has gained more prominence as a cultural celebration in the United States, particularly among Mexican-American communities.
In the U.S., it is often associated with celebrating Mexican heritage, featuring parades, festivals, mariachi music, traditional foods, and folkloric dance performances.
What are the Traditions of Mexican Independence Day?
Mexican Independence Day is celebrated by a variety of traditions and festivities that highlight Mexico's history, culture, and pride. Here are some common Mexican Independence Day traditions:
El Grito de Dolores
On the evening of September 15th, the president or a designated official of Mexico delivers a symbolic shout from a balcony, commemorating Hidalgo's call and celebrating the country's independence. The crowd responds with shouts of "¡Viva México!" and "¡Viva la independencia!" followed by the ringing of bells and fireworks.
Throughout Mexico, various towns and cities organize parades that showcase the nation's history, culture, and diversity. These parades often feature colorful floats, traditional costumes, mariachi bands, folkloric dance groups, and displaying Mexican flags.
Mexican Flags and Decorations
Streets, buildings, and homes are adorned with Mexican flags, bunting, and other patriotic decorations in the colors of the national flag: green, white, and red. The flag is a powerful symbol of unity and pride during the celebrations.
Folkloric dance groups and mariachi bands perform traditional music and dance routines that reflect Mexico's rich cultural heritage. These performances can be seen in public squares, cultural centers, and other gathering places.
Public spaces, such as town squares and plazas, are hubs of activity during Mexican Independence Day. People gather for festivities, including live music, dance performances, food stalls, and other forms of entertainment.
These traditions come together to create a festive and patriotic atmosphere during Mexican Independence Day, allowing people to express their love for their country and honor the historical significance of the occasion.
How You Can Celebrate Mexican Independence Day
Mexican Independence Day is a time for people of all ages to come together and celebrate as a community. Families, friends, and neighbors often participate in the events, fostering a sense of unity.
Remember that the key to celebrating Mexican Independence Day is to honor the culture, history, and significance of the holiday while enjoying the festive and spirited atmosphere.
Starting to think about your Mexican Independence Day fiesta? There's a variety of ways to celebrate!
Traditional Food and Drinks for Mexican Independence Day
Special Mexican dishes and drinks are prepared for Mexican Independence Day. Street vendors and restaurants in Mexico offer a variety of traditional foods, such as pozole, tamales, chiles en nogada (stuffed peppers), and Mexican sweets like churros and pan dulce (sweet bread). Traditional drinks like aguas frescas, tequila, and mezcal are also enjoyed.
Organize a Mexican-themed party or gathering with friends and family. Decorate with Mexican flags, colors, and traditional decorations like papel picado and table runners. Serve Mexican cuisine, such as tacos, guacamole, salsa, and churros.
Music and Dancing for Mexican Independence Day
Music is a central part of Mexican Independence Day celebrations. Mariachi bands play traditional music, and people gather to dance to lively rhythms like cumbia and salsa.
At your Mexican Independence Day fiesta, you can listen to traditional Mexican music, such as mariachi, ranchera, cumbia, and salsa. You can also learn some basic dance steps or choreograph a dance routine to celebrate the holiday.
Fireworks for Mexican Independence Day
Fireworks are an integral part of the celebrations, lighting up the night sky in vibrant colors. The fireworks display often accompanies the "Grito de Dolores" and adds to the festive atmosphere.
What to Wear for Mexican Independence Day
Many people choose to wear traditional Mexican attire during the celebrations. Women may don colorful dresses, while men often opt for traditional charro outfits or shirts with intricate embroidery.
Decorate with Mexican Party Decorations
Decorating with Mexican party decorations is a fantastic way to create a festive and vibrant atmosphere for celebrating Mexican Independence Day or any Mexican-themed event. Here are some ideas and suggestions for decorating with Mexican party decorations:
Mexican Independence Day Papel Picado
Red, White & Green Decorations
Decorate using the colors of the Mexican flag: green, white, and red. Use tablecloths, napkins, balloons, and other decorations in these colors to create a cohesive look.
Mexican Bottle Covers
Using Mexican-themed bottle covers can be a creative and festive way to add a unique touch to your party or celebration. These covers can be used for bottles of beverages, such as sodas, water, and even alcoholic drinks.
Use mini sombreros as table centerpieces or wall decorations. They add an authentic Mexican flair to the decor!