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Viva la Independencia!

Mexico’s Independence Day is fast approaching! Here, we’ve compiled all the basics you need to know: what it is, why it matters, and how to celebrate.

Photo by Ronny K

The Cry of Delores

Up until 1810,  Mexico had been under Spanish colonial rule for 300 years. This all came to an end with the Mexican War of Independence, which began in the early hours of September 16. At around 2:30 a.m., a Roman Catholic Priest in the small town of Dolores, called his congregation to arms. The exact words have been lost to history, but Father Miguel Hidalgo’s Grito de Delores urged the people to revolt, sparking the subsequent 11 year war. Hidalgo was captured and executed in 1811, but to this day is still considered “the father of his country”.

In fact, Hidalgo’s call to arms is considered such an important moment in Mexican history that it’s this date that has been commemorated as Mexico’s Day of Independence – even though the country didn’t declare independence until September 28, 1821!

Father Hidalgo on the 1000 peso bill

Wait, it’s not Cinco de Mayo?!

Nope! While some Americans get the holidays confused, Cinco de Mayo (literally ‘Fifth of May’ in Spanish) actually celebrates an event 50 years after Hidalgo’s Grito de Delores. While September 16 marks Mexico’s independence from the Spanish, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla.

Fun Fact: Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo isn’t really a big deal in Mexico (except in Puebla, where the battle took place). The biggest celebration of Cinco de Mayo is actually in Los Angeles!

So how do we celebrate?

At 11pm on September 15th, thousands congregate in the Zócalo, or main square, in Mexico City. The President then rings the same bell that Hidalgo did and recites a variation of the Grito de Dolores from the National Palace. The next day is a national holiday, with lots of fireworks, food and fiestas across the country – similar to Fourth of July in the USA! Most Mexicans celebrate by hanging flags all over their homes and spending time with family. A feast is also usually involved. If the food can be made red, white and green (like the Mexican Flag) all the better!

Not in Mexico to celebrate? Many major cities in the States with large Mexican populations also hold large celebrations for Dia De La Independencia, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City.


Photo by Thelmadatter/Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons 3.0

¡Viva México!

Excited to celebrate Mexico’s independence? Why not polish up your Spanish first! Fluent City offers courses for all levels, time restraints and abilities. Check them out here!

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