Mexico Independence Day: Celebrating the Nation's Autonomy, Separate from Cinco de Mayo
Celebrate Mexican Independence Day with events organized throughout the United States, highlighting Mexican culture and history.
September is a significant month for Mexico as it marks Mes de la Patria, or patriotic month, with Sept. 16 being the day that commemorates the beginning of the fight for independence against Spanish forces. This fight lasted for over 300 years, and today, the celebration of Mexican independence has transcended borders and is celebrated in various parts of the United States.
As the days go by, the streets of Mexico and Mexican communities in the US are filled with vendors selling Mexican flags, rattles, and traditional clothing. Folkloric skirts, peasant blouses, shawls, zarapes, and huarache sandals are among the items being sold. In schools, classrooms are decorated with green, white, and red papel picado (perforated paper), and patriotic parties are organized where students come together to share Mexican dishes and watch ballet folklórico performances.
One of the highlights of the celebration is the performance of "El Grito de Dolores," or battle cry. This battle cry was inspired by Catholic priest Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on Sept. 16, 1810. Hidalgo rang the bells of his parish and called on the Mexican population to take up arms against the Spanish authorities. This fight for independence would last for 11 years.
Every year, a performance of the battle cry takes place in the National Palace in Mexico City. A military escort made up of students from the Heroic Military College delivers the flag to the current president of Mexico while the national anthem plays. The president then addresses the attendees from the balcony of the National Palace, ringing out the same cry and honoring the heroes of independence.
Cities and organizations across Mexico and the United States plan events to celebrate this important date and educate people about Mexican culture. The General Consulate of Mexico in cities like Las Vegas, New York, and Miami organizes community events featuring the battle cry performance. Universities, media groups, and local organizations also contribute to the celebrations in cities with large Mexican populations.
From El Grito ceremonies and concerts by famous Mexican musicians to art exhibitions and family festivals, the day is always commemorated in a grand way. The aim is to educate and emphasize the significance of this date for those living in the United States.
However, there is still confusion in the United States regarding the actual date of Mexico's Independence Day. Irasema Coronado, director of the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, highlights this confusion. She explains that May 5, or Cinco de Mayo, has become a commercialized holiday in the US, but it is not the day that marks Mexico's independence. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla, where the Mexican army won against French troops in 1862.
Another celebration that is often combined with Mexican independence is Hispanic Heritage Month, observed in the United States between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15. This month celebrates the achievements, traditions, and stories of people of Latino or Hispanic origin. It also coincides with the anniversaries of the independence of several Latin American countries, including Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
Coronado emphasizes the importance of understanding the history of both the United States and Mexico for Latinos of Mexican origin. By studying this history, they can better appreciate the connection between the two countries and educate others on the accurate celebration of Mexico's origins.
In conclusion, the celebration of Mexican independence in September is a vibrant and significant event that has spread beyond Mexico's borders. It is a time when communities come together to honor their heritage, share their culture, and educate others about the history of Mexico. Through events and celebrations, the importance of accurately celebrating Mexico's origins is emphasized, ensuring that the legacy of independence lives on for generations to come.