You may be surprised to hear that all the tacos and tequila you consume every May isn’t the celebratory equivalent of Fourth of July for Mexico. Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s unlikely victory over France at the Battle of Puebla, not the country’s independence. So you may be wondering, when is Mexican Independence Day?
When is Mexican Independence Day?
Mexico’s independence day is actually a two-day celebration that falls on September 15 and 16 and it celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain in 1810.
History of Mexican Independence From Spain
Mexico’s war for independence started with a priest known as Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato. Miguel Hidalgo was planning a revolt against the Spaniards but they Spanish got word before he had time to execute his plans. Before the Spanish came to arrest Miguel and his followers, Miguel rang his church bell and called a meeting. Late into the night of September 15, Miguel Hidalgo uttered the Cry of Dolores or Grito de Dolores speech urging Mexicans to take up arms and revolt against the Spanish. And so Mexico’s war for independence began.
Miguel Hidalgo’s followers did take up arms and march all the way to Mexico City, but this was just the beginning of a 10-year struggle for independence. Unfortunately Miguel Hidalgo was captured and executed on July 30, 1811, not even a year later.
Mexico’s independence was not officially declared until September 28, 1821.
Modern Day Celebrations of Mexican Independence Day
Mexico celebrates independence on September 15 and 16 officially, but there’s a patriotic spirit in the air all month long.
On September 15 at 11 pm, President Enrique Peña Nieto gives the Cry of Dolores speech and rings the same bell Miguel Hidalgo rang from the national palace in Mexico City, overlooking thousands of people in the zócalo below. All across Mexico in homes, bars and streets people shout “¡Viva México!” and “¡Viva la independencia!” The Cry of Dolores is followed by the Mexican National Anthem and live music performances by big names in Mexico City and marching bands, mariachi and more in towns across the country. People even set palm stalks on fire in the streets! Red, green and white fireworks fill the sky and excitement fills the air!
On September 16, all businesses close for the public holiday and the streets fill with brass bands, parades, dancing and many wearing traditional dress. Smells of celebratory foods like Pozole Rojo, Chile en Nogada and Mole Poblano Guajolote fill the houses and restaurants as everyone indulges in food, drink and fun!
Whether you’re in Mexico or not, celebrate independence day by cooking up some Chile en Nogada, taking a Bandera Mexicana shot or just shouting ¡Viva México!