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Get out some of those green, white and red flags and get ready to enjoy some music and festivities because it’s time to have loads of fun in celebrating Mexican Independence Day! 

Some people tend to get confused about the time of year that the independence of Mexico is celebrated, thinking that it happens on the 5th of May, or Cinco de Mayo. But Cinco de Mayo is actually a smaller holiday that celebrates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, denoting victory over the French.

The real Mexican Independence Day takes place later in the year and is actually a much more important date than May 5th, as it honors and celebrates the history of the country of Mexico after it came out from under the rule of Spain.

History of Mexican Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day pays homage to the battle that started the war which ultimately resulted in Mexico’s independence more than a decade later. September 16, 1810 was the day that Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla declared independence from Spanish rule by ringing the bell of his church. This battle cry took place in the city of Dolores (near Guanajuato) and it is now referred to as the “Grito de Dolores” or by locals it may simply be known as “El Grito de Independencia”, the cry of independence.

This cry is considered as the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence which lasted for eleven years, one week and four days. What started as a rebellion against the colonial powers ultimately ended in some unlikely alliances and a rough start for the country. Originally, the agreement was for Mexico to become an empire with a constitutional monarchy, but that was short lived and eventually the country was declared a federal republic in 1823.

Locals often begin their Mexican Independence Day celebrations the evening before, on the night of September 15, with parties, festivals, gatherings and a wide variety of events that will last through the following day. Many of the public spaces and streets are decorated with green, white and red, the colors of the Mexican flag. Events held on the eve of the holiday may include fireworks as well as the important reading of the Grito de Dolores.

Mexican Independence Day Timeline

September 16, 1810

Miguel Hidalgo declares independence from Spain

The “Grito de Dolores” acts as a call to arms or a battle cry triggering the Mexican War of Independence.[1]

1821

Mexico gains independence 

After more than eleven years of war, a treaty between the parties is signed and Mexico gains its independence.[2]

1846

Mexican American War begins 

This conflict lasts for two years and results in a change of territory including California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.[3]

1861

Mexico is invaded by the French 

Napoleon seeks to expand the French Empire with an invasion that lasts for five years.[4]

1917

Mexican Constitution is adopted 

This document defines the important factors involved in Mexico’s government, citizenship, land reform, rights and more.[5]

How to Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

It’s time to celebrate and show appreciation for the freedom that this south-of-the-border country has enjoyed for more than 200 years. Get involved with Mexican Independence Day by participating in some of these ideas and activities:

Host a Mexican Independence Day Party

Folks who simply love celebrating the country of Mexico can gather together friends and family members, neighbors and coworkers to join in on a party that pays proper respect to Mexican Independence Day. Perhaps this would be just a small party that is held in the back yard where some Mexican music is played and food is served. Or it could be a huge street party that the whole neighborhood gets involved with.

It might be fun to go even bigger and make it a festival for the whole community that is celebrated in a local park. Decorate with Mexican flags and set up games and activities for the kids to enjoy, like a piñata filled with candy and fruit. Invite some taco trucks to stop by with their Mexican food offerings for visitors to enjoy and perhaps arrange to have a Mariachi band that plays their traditional music. Get everyone involved in celebrating and enjoying this important day for Mexico!

Enjoy Some Mexican Food

Families and individuals who want to give a nod to Mexican Independence Day without going to a lot of trouble can certainly enjoy the day by experiencing some traditional Mexican cuisine. It might be fun to head out to a Mexican restaurant with family members or friends in celebration of the day.

Of course, in the US, many of the restaurants and dishes that are called Mexican are actually an Americanized or Tex-Mex version of the food. So instead of going to a restaurant, it might be enjoyable to stay home and try to cook some authentic Mexican foods. Do some research on the internet to see what recipes can be found that are specifically tailored to be authentic.

Here are some tips for creating more true-to-taste Mexican dishes:

  • Skip the beef. Because beef has not been readily available in Mexico, most authentic Mexican dishes will use pork or chicken.
  • Go for corn tortillas. Many Tex-Mex or American-style foods will use flour tortillas to make tacos or enchiladas, but the traditional version will likely use corn tortillas instead – but not hard shell tacos!
  • Cook with cast iron. One feature that makes authentic Mexican food taste so good is that it is cooked in a cast-iron skillet, which retains a certain kind of flavor.
  • Choose the right cheese. Many Tex-Mex versions of food will call for Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheeses, but if a real Mexican recipe calls for cheese, it utilizes cheeses like Cotija, Oaxaca or Queso Fresco.

Plan a Visit to Mexico

Of course, one of the best ways to get involved in the celebration of Mexican Independence Day might be to take a trip over the border and join the party! Head over to Mexico City where the president makes his address to the people by reading the Grito de Dolores from the balcony of the National Palace. Or, head a bit northwest of the capital city to Dolores Hidalgo, where the original battle cry of independence took place. This is one of the best times to visit and celebrate the amazing beauty that Mexican culture affords!

Make Some Crafts that Celebrate Mexico

Parents and teachers might want to show appreciation for Mexican Independence Day by helping children to make some crafts related to the day. Make it memorable by providing craft supplies for children to make their own Mexican flag, decorate some art projects with sombreros or piñatas, fashion some colorful tissue paper flowers that can be used to decorate for a Mexican festival. 

Mexican Independence Day FAQs

When did Mexico gain independence?

The Mexicans declared their independence through the war that started on September 16, 1810 and independence was finally gained on September 27, 1821.[1]

How did Mexico gain independence?

Mexico gained independence through a war with Spain that included the Royalist forces.[2]

Is Mexican Independence Day a federal holiday?

Yes, in Mexico this day is considered a national holiday to celebrate the “cry of independence” started by Catholic Priest Miguel Hidalgo.

How did Mexican independence affect California?

One of the most obvious results of Mexican independence was that the religious missions became secularized, with many losing their land and power.[3]

Where does Mexican Independence Day take place?

Mexico City is the location where the president oversees the festivities, but celebrations take place all over the country of Mexico.

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