While there aren’t many Mexican holidays in September, this month has the biggest celebration of the whole year: Mexican Independence Day. As the country shoots off fireworks and plazas are filled with patriotic celebrations, the festivities are all about tradition. Being a part of Independence Day is a cultural experience you’ll never forget, but understanding its history and knowing important Mexican Independence Day facts will enrich your celebrations.
The country celebrates the 1810 Declaration of Independence on September 16, the day that the Mexican War for Independence started. However, there’s an interesting fact about when Mexican Independence Day is celebrated. The festivities stretch out over two days, with some of the biggest gatherings on September 15. If you’re traveling in the country and hoping to experience Mexican holidays in September, you’re in luck. As you join in the parties and traditions, you’ll be fully immersed in the local culture.
Mexican Independence Day is largely based on the Cry of Dolores, the country’s original Declaration of Independence. In 1810 in the small city of Dolores, revolutionary leaders were watching how Spain was exploiting Mexico’s natural resources and indigenous people. On the eve of September 16, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the catholic priest in Dolores, arranged to have pro-revolution inmates freed from the jail, and he rang the church bells just after midnight, gathering his parishioners together. His impassioned revolutionary speech became known as the Cry of Dolores or El Grito.
The Cry of Dolores isn’t just one of the historical Mexican Independence Day facts. It’s a historic moment that’s reenacted every year. On the night of September 15, the President of Mexico stands on a balcony of the presidential palace overlooking Constitution Square, and as a crowd gathers below, he reenacts Hidalgo’s famous declaration of independence, and cries of “Viva Mexico!” echo all around the country with cheers for different revolutionary leaders.
Mexican holidays in September aren’t as famous around the world, but in the United States, most people are familiar with Cinco de Mayo, often confusing it for Independence Day. However, the historical difference between Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day is significant. After Mexico won its independence, France saw an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and invade the newly formed republic. At the Battle of Puebla, France attacked the small town of Puebla, but an untrained army of revolutionaries and indigenous fighters were able to defend their country. Cinco de Mayo celebrates this historic win, and while most of Mexico does little to celebrate the holiday, the Mexican diaspora celebrates their culture and heritage around the world on May 5.
To celebrate Mexican Independence Day, families and restaurants around the country spend the day cooking traditional foods, like enchiladas and pozole. Of all the delicious foods eaten on September 16, the most important is chiles en nogada, green poblano chiles stuffed with beef and vegetables, covered with a creamy walnut sauce, and garnished with red pomegranate seeds. However, this isn’t just a hearty meal. The colors of chiles en nogada reflect the red, white, and green of the Mexican flag, making it perfect for Independence Day.
These Mexican Independence Day facts are all tied to the country’s history and reflect its strong patriotism, and the modern celebrations showcase Mexico’s vibrant culture. As you learn the difference between Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day, you’ll experience the pride Mexicans have in their country and culture, and watching the reenactment of the Cry of Dolores as fireworks shoot off overhead will be an unforgettable experience.