Viva Mexico! September Holidays


Viva Mexico! September Holidays

Tara A. Spears

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 September is a time of celebration and tribute to the indomitable spirit of the Mexican people. Flags, parades, and music festivals pay homage to the historical events and heroes that led to the formation of modern Mexico.  The month begins with the President’s annual State of the Union address from Mexico City, followed by the commemoration of two significant 19th century political events that typically enable families to have a mini-vacation.

 The Federal holiday observance of Los Ninos Heroes, Tuesday, September 13, is paired with Mexican Independence Day on Friday September 16. Banks, schools, government offices and many businesses are closed for the week. Communities, schools, and families alike are preparing for spirited fiestas with colorful costumes, traditional dishes, and lots of fireworks and music!


Los Ninos Heroes, six teenage military cadets who died defending Mexico in the 1847. This battle outside Mexico City contains all the dramatic elements that inspire: beleaguered and outnumbered common people, an exotic setting in an elegant castle, violence and bloodshed.  In 1847 the Mexican-American war had reached deep into the country, with North American Marines laying siege to the nation’s capital. Chapultepec Castle was a remnant from the hated Spanish rule and was used as a military academy.  Although the young soldiers-in-training had been ordered to retreat, with the invincible conviction of youth they choose to stay in the castle and fight for their belief in Mexican independence. 

Battling against professional soldiers, these six teens sacrificed their lives defending their country. One of the young heroes, Juan Escutia, who was born in Tepic, Nayarit, is especially revered for his extraordinary bravery.  Although Juan had only been admitted to the Academy days before the siege, he courageously chose to protect and honor his country’s flag by wrapping himself in it and leaping from the roof to prevent the flag from falling into enemy hands.   The Chapultepec castle is presently a national museum in a park: both are open to the public daily.


El Grito de Dolores/The Cry of Dolores: Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811) is considered the foremost patriot of Mexican independence. Described as an intellectual, charismatic, priest, and rebel leader Hidalgo helped initiate the Mexican revolt from Spanish rule. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811) is considered the foremost patriot of Mexican independence.

Hidalgo often hosted gatherings at his home where he would talk about whether it was the duty of the people to obey or overthrow an unjust tyrant. Hidalgo believed the Spanish crown was a tyrant: it was paying the royal tax that ruined the finances of the Hidalgo family, and he saw injustice daily in his work with the poor.

There was a conspiracy for independence in Querétaro at the time: the rebel conspiracy felt that they needed someone with moral authority, a relationship with the lower classes and good connections. Hidalgo was recruited and joined without reservation. Originally promoting the interests of the wealthy Creoles in Guanajunto, his native state, Hidalgo expanded his appeals to include the Indios and castes, thus garnering a large militant fighting army.mex-6

Hidalgo was in Dolores on September 15, 1810, with other leaders of the conspiracy including military commander Ignacio Allende when word came to them that the conspiracy had been found out. Needing to move immediately, Hidalgo rang the church bells on the morning of the sixteenth, calling in all of the locals who happened to be in the market on that day. From the pulpit, he announced his intention to strike for independence and pleaded with the people of Dolores to join him. Most did: Hidalgo had an army of some 600 men within minutes. In his impassioned speech Hidalgo invoked the Virgin of Guadalupe as patroness, which inspired all classes to revolt against the Spanish overseers. 

Hidalgo’s platform of social change -he advocated the end of slavery, social classes, and to return the land to the Indians- caused a separation from his original Creole supporters. Allende was furious with Hidalgo and placed him under arrest: Hidalgo went north as a prisoner.  Hidalgo and other rebel leaders were captured north of Saltillo after they were betrayed by local insurrection leader Ignacio Elizondo.                                                                           

Hidalgo and Allende were given to the Spanish authorities and sent to the city of Chihuahua to stand trial. All of the rebel leaders were found guilty and sentenced to death. As a sign of dishonor  all the rebel leaders-including Hidalgo- were shot in the back and decapitated: their heads were hung from the four corners of the granary of Guanajuato as a warning to those who would think to follow in their footsteps.

It wasn’t until years later that Hidalgo’s efforts were recognized and he was recognized as a patriotic hero. Modern Mexico celebrates the date of his revolutionary speech as Mexican Independence Day, September 16 each year. Hidalgo’s remains lie in a Mexico City monument known as “the Angel of Independence” along with other Revolutionary heroes.

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