Patriotic Fiestas Celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day
Tara A. Spears
September is one of the most festive times of the year in Mexico. From the beginning of the month streets and buildings all over the country are festooned with an explosion of green, white, and red. A multitude of popular traditions- special foods, dance, parades- embody the patriotic spirit of this intensely proud culture.
September 13 honors Los Ninos Heroes, six teenage military cadets who died defending Mexico in the 1847 Mexican-American war; and September 16, Mexican Independence Day, celebrates the day in 1810 that Miguel Hidalgo delivered El Grito de Dolores, announcing the Mexican revolt against Spanish rule. Mexican Independence Day is the most celebrated of all of Mexico’s holidays-everyone is Mexican for a day!
As the political center of the country, Mexico City celebrates in a huge way. Each year at around 11:00 on the night of September 15, the President of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace in Mexico City. After the ringing of the bell, the president repeats a cry of patriotism (El Grito Mexicano) based upon the “Grito de Dolores,” with the names of the important heroes of the Mexican War of Independence and ending with the threefold shout of ¡Viva México! from the balcony of the palace to the assembled crowd in the Plaza de la Constitución, or Zócalo, one of the world’s largest public plazas.
After the shouting, he rings the bell again and waves the Flag of Mexico to the applause of the crowd. This is followed by the playing and mass singing of the Himno Nacional Mexicano, the national anthem. This event draws up to half a million spectators from all over Mexico and tourists worldwide. On the morning of September 16, or Independence Day, the national military parade starts in the Zócalo, passes the Hidalgo Memorial and ends on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main boulevard.
A similar celebration occurs in cities and towns all over Mexico with the mayor (or governor, in the case of state capitals,) ringing a bell and giving the traditional speech, ending with the threefold shout of Viva Mexico! The bell is rung for the second time while waving the Mexican flag. The traditional ceremony concludes with all spectators singing the National Anthem. Many cities also provide extravagant firework displays and music in the town squares.
If you can only visit beautiful Mexico for a week, September is a perfect time to experience the passion and history of the country. This month of Fiesta Patria (holiday of the Fatherland) is marked by parades, patriotic programs, marching band competitions, special programs on the national and local media outlets, and even free concerts. Of course there is copious beer and margaritas to enhance all of the sights!