When Is Mexican Independence Day Celebrated?

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Mexican Independence Day, otherwise known as El Diez y Seis de Septiembre, celebrates Miguel Hidalgo’s “cry of independence” speech made on September 16th, 1810. The speech marked the beginning of Mexico’s uprising against Spanish rule. Mexican Independence Day is primarily celebrated in Mexico on Sept. 16th each year, with public festivals featuring food, dance, and music.

Great emphasis should be placed on the word “primarily”, as many individuals of Mexican descent celebrate this holiday all across the globe. Numerous communities in cities like Los Angeles, California and Tuscon, Arizona participate in this momentous occasion each year. Mexican Independence Day allows people to reflect on the past; Spain invaded Mexico in the 1500s, heralding the end of the Aztec and Inca Empires. Centuries later, the descendants of those conquered communities would regain their freedom. That is just one facet of what Mexican Independence Day means to those who celebrate it.

Miguel Hidalgo, a Mexican Roman Catholic priest, was serving as a parish priest in Dolores, Mexico when he gave the speech that ignited the Mexican struggle for independence. As a priest, he focused on creating economic opportunities for the low-income families in his parish, by creating brick and pottery factories and by training the people of his congregation to make leather. His goal was to enable his parishioners to become financially self-sufficient, despite strict regulations on Mexican commerce, regulations that benefitted the Spanish regime at the expense of the Mexican economy.

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On the morning of Sept. 16, 1810, Hidalgo called Mass, which was attended by approximately 300 people. It was there that he gave the speech that has since been named The Cry of Dolores. In his speech, he urged his parishioners to join him in opposition to Spanish rule. The speech marked the beginning of the struggle for Mexican independence from Spain, which lasted until Sept. 28, 1821, when independence was officially gained by the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire. Despite the fact that Sept. 28 is the official yearly anniversary of Mexico’s independence, the holiday is celebrated on Sept. 16 to honor Miguel Hidalgo, often called the “father of his country.”

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated each year with large public festivals around Mexico. The day has been declared a national public holiday in Mexico, meaning that schools, government offices, banks, and businesses are closed. Decorations are erected in the colors of the Mexican flag in homes and public spaces, and citizens celebrate with food, music, dancing, bullfights, fireworks, noisemakers, and confetti.

The Independence Day celebrations officially begin at 11:00 p.m. on Sept. 15. Mexico’s president kicks off the holiday by ringing a bell at the National Palace in Mexico City and recites to the gathered crowd the words that Hidalgo is thought to have said. The speech typically becomes a call and response between the speaker and the crowd, as the speaker recites one line of the speech and the crowd repeats it, yelling “Viva!” after each line.

The celebration at the National Palace in Mexico City is broadcast yearly on Univision, and similar celebrations happen simultaneously in city squares all over Mexico. The holiday is also celebrated in satellite cities, including San Diego, Santa Fe, Houston, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.

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