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Facts About Mexican Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day, recognized on September 16, is celebrated much like the Fourth of July is in the United States. Events typically begin on the evening of the 15th with a special address by the Mexican p followed by parties and fireworks.

Facts About Mexican Independence Day

History of Mexico

In the early 1500s, Spain conquered Mexico and renamed it New Spain. The Spanish enslaved the native populations and sought to bring the land under their control through mining and farming. Like their neighbors to the north, Mexico suffered from tyrannical taxes imposed by the Spanish crown to pay for disastrous losses, such as the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and Napoleon's invasion in 1808. In the early part of the nineteenth century, encouraged by the winds of change in the United States and France, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla led a rallying group calling for Mexican independence.

Local Spanish officers and nobility who caught wind of Father Hidalgo's leanings ordered the man and his people arrested. But Father Hidalgo was warned and, on the night of September 15th, he rang the bells of his church, calling his congregation to mass. When everyone was seated, he gave a rallying speech similar to Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech. Hidalgo's speech was known as the Grito de Dolores. His speech concluded with "Viva Mexico and Viva La Independencia!"

War for Independence

Father Hidalgo's speech brought together many people, including the Criollos (wealthy Spanish descendants) and the Mesizos (Spanish/Mayan descendents and Spanish/Aztec descendants). Armed with only stone slings, knives, clubs, and old guns, Hidalgo's followers marched on Mexico City.

Within the first year, Father Hidalgo was captured by the Spanish and executed, but his people continued to fight. The Mexican War for Independence would go on for eleven years, but, eventually, the Spanish withdrew from Mexico, leaving the country to the people who fought for it. The first presidential election was held in 1823.

Celebrating Independence

Mexicans celebrate their Independence Day all over the world, beginning on September 15 and carrying on through the 16th. Children are dismissed from school and many businesses are closed. City squares are decorated in red, white, and green. Celebrations are loud and boisterous, but at 11:00 p.m., every square will go quiet as the bells ring out the hour. Then the Mexican President steps out on his palace balcony and rings the church bell that Father Hidalgo used to call his congregation.

The President then recites the Grito de Dolores, reminding the people of their roots, and concludes it with a shouted Viva Mexico and Viva La Independencia! The crowds in turn, shout the words back. Feasts, rodeos, bullfights, and parades, all in honor of Father Hidalgo and Mexican Independence Day, mark the 16th.

Celebration Colors

The red, white, and green of the Mexican flag are the colors most often associated with Independence Day celebrations. The green represents independence while the white celebrates the religion at the heart of the Mexican culture and family. The red is the union between the two. From the smallest village to the largest town, Mexican Independence Day is more important, more boisterous, and more celebrated than Cinco de Mayo.