4 Things You Didn’t Know about Mexican Independence Day
The United States isn’t the only country to celebrate Independence Day once a year. Mexico also has that kind of holiday, which falls on September 16th. While you don’t need an excuse to enjoy good Mexican food, it’s good to know that a dinner at Agave Mexican Restaurant this month will honor an important part of Mexico’s culture and heritage. In this article, you’ll learn a few things you probably didn’t know about Mexico’s Independence Day.
It’s Not Cinco de Mayo
Most people think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s equivalent of Independence Day. And while that’s an important part of Mexican history and duly celebrated, Mexican Independence Day is September 16th. On Cinco de Mayo, Mexico won an important battle, which was celebrated by Mexicans living in California. From there, the celebrations traveled through the country. The battle that was the origin for Cinco de Mayo celebrations had nothing to do with the independence movement of Mexico, which took place 150 years earlier.
Just because Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican Independence Day doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate it. In fact, we’re happy to provide you with delicious Mexican cuisine all year long.
Celebrations Last for Two Days
Mexicans enjoy a good celebration as much as anyone, and Mexican Independence Day starts the night before the actual holiday. This makes the national holiday seem even grander than it is. It all starts the night before with a reenactment of the Cry of Dolores. On the evening of September 15, Mexico celebrates the original Cry of Dolores or ‘El Grito de Dolores’ as it is called in Spanish. It is believed that the priest Miguel Hidalgo uttered the cry of independence in the city of Dolores, which gets recited by the President every year. That night, the show of patriotism includes the national anthem and fireworks before a crowd of about half a million spectators.
How Mexico Gained Its Independence
Mexican Independence wasn’t gained overnight. The movement to gain independence from Spain was caused by different events, including the French and American Revolution as well as the political and economic relations with Spain. In 1810, the priest Hidalgo agreed that revolt was needed because of the injustices brought upon the poor in Mexico. It wasn’t a decision taken lightly. Within a group of reformers, there were many spirited discussions on whether it was better to obey or revolt against a tyrannical government. Hidalgo proclaimed his decisions loudly with the ringing of the bell and the Cry of Dolores leading a group of revolts against the Spanish government.
Even though Hidalgo and his successor Morelos were eventually captured and executed by the Spanish colonial authorities, the movement for independence didn’t stop. Small guerrilla bands led by Guadalupe Victoria and Vicente Guerrero eventually led to success in 1821. At that time, the Spanish monarch Ferdinand VII was forced to deal with a military coup and create a constitutional monarchy - effectively relinquishing some of the monarch’s power. As a result, Mexico gained its independence and established Roman Catholicism as the religion of the land at the same time.
How Mexico Celebrates Independence Day
It is traditional for Mexico’s President to reenact the Cry of Dolores the night before Independence Day. Most of the time, this is done at the National Palace. However, it has also been performed in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato - which is where the original event took place. The location may change from the National Palace if it’s the current President’s last term or to celebrate a special anniversary, such as the bicentennial.
First, the President rings the original bell that Hidalgo rang that day. Then he recites the Grito Mexicano, which is based on the Cry of Dolores. About half a million spectators are present each year and respond by repeating the patriotic lines. Afterwards, the President rings the bell one last time and waves the Flag of Mexico. Next, the band plays the national anthem. The evening concludes with a display of spectacular fireworks.
On September 16, there is a national military parade in Zocalo, which ends on the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City. Additionally, smaller provinces and towns have their own parades and ceremonies, much like it in the United States.
We’d love to celebrate Mexican Independence Day with you at Agave Mexican Restaurant. We’re happy to reserve a table for your group, but you can also just walk in when you’re hungry. We offer a great selection of drinks to go with your dinner options, too.