Dia de la Independencia – Mexico
Let’s get one thing straight. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day. While it’s regarded as a pinnacle of Mexican culture by many Americans, Cinco de Mayo isn’t even celebrated outside of the state of Puebla.
Mexico’s actual Independence Day is observed on September 16. Like many other world cultures, Mexico’s Dia de la Independencia celebrates its independence from European colonization.
A Brief Timeline of Mexican Independence
- 1517- The first European visits Mexican territory, leading to Spanish colonization.
- Known as “La Nueva España”, Mexico is under Spanish rule for about 300 years.
- 1808– Napoleon Bonaparte occupies Spain, weakening its rule over Mexico.
- 1810– Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rings his church bell in Dolores, Mexico, giving the call to arms that triggers the Mexican War of Independence.
- 1821– After a decade of fighting, Mexico officially gains independence from Spain.
Today, El Dia de la Independencia is celebrated by re-enacting Father Hidalgo’s legendary call for independence. This tradition is called el Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores, and stands strong as a meaningful part of Mexican culture.
On the eve of September 16 (that’s the night of the 15th), friends and family across the country gather together to ring in the holiday.
Homes and public plazas alike are saturated in a dazzling array of red, white, and green, the colors of the Mexican flag. Citizens dance, sing, and feast the night away. As the clock strikes midnight, they chant “¡Viva Mexico!”, mirroring Father Hidalgo’s iconic words.
The most prominent celebration of El Dia de la Independencia happens in the country’s capital of Mexico City. La Plaza del Zócalo, Mexico City’s main square, teems with thousands upon thousands of people, ready to participate in the cherished tradition. There’s confetti, light displays, parade floats, street vendors, live music, traditional performances and more, all in a vibrant display of patriotism and Mexican culture.
At around 11 pm, Mexico’s presidential family appears on the balcony of the National Palace, ready to address the thousands of people below. The president rings a bell and gives a modern version of Father Hidalgo’s speech, honoring prominent figures of Mexican Independence, like Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez.
As the speech ends and he waves a Mexican flag over the crowd, the plaza is lit by a stunning display of fireworks. The crowd’s cheers and chants of excitement ring loud and clear, resonating nationwide.
¡Viva la independencia!