Mexico is the best place to be on September 16, Mexican Independence Day. This fiesta-friendly holiday celebrates Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810, and it’s filled with national pride, colorful parades, mariachi concerts, and food, food and more sabrosa food. People of Mexican heritage all over the world commemorate this important event in their country’s history, when a brave priest in the village of Delores rang his church bell and delivered a powerful speech that set the War of Independence from Spain in motion. Even the President of Mexico participates by ringing that same bell — now over 200 years old — live on TV the night before the big celebration.
History of Mexican Independence Day
Mexico, once known as New Spain, was a colony harshly ruled by the kingdom of Spain for over 300 years. The native population was oppressed, farm land and personal wealth was confiscated and only Spaniards were allowed to hold political posts. Finally, a Catholic priest in the town of Delores named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla had enough.
On September 16, 1810, he rang his church’s bell and delivered a speech now known as the Grito de Delores (Cry of Delores), demanding the end of Spanish rule. This started the brutal Mexican War of Independence, which lasted over a decade. On August 24, 1821, Spain withdrew and officially recognized Mexico as an independent country. Today, Father Costilla is known as the Father of Mexican Independence. Mexican Independence Day has been celebrated every year since that momentous day on September 16, 1810.
Mexican Independence Day has developed into a huge nationwide celebration over the past 200-plus years. The country’s leaders were inspired by our own July 4 Independence Day festivities, so fireworks fill the skies at night and the day is filled with patriotic speeches, flag waving, parades, live music, and home-cooked feasts. Red, white and green — the colors of the Mexican flag — are seen everywhere across Mexico and even cities in the USA with big Mexican populations.
One of the most popular events connected to Mexican Independence Day is when the President of Mexico rings the 200 year-old bell Father Costilla used in 1810 and recites the Grito de Delores speech in front of 500,000 people. This event is broadcasted live to millions via Mexican TV and radio the evening of September 15.
Many people outside of Mexico think that Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo are the same thing. Cinco de Mayo celebrates another victory, when the outnumbered Mexican army defeated the powerful French militia in 1862 during the Battle of Puebla.
Mexican Independence Day timeline
- August 24, 1821
Mexico is Declared an Independent Country
Spain signs The Treaty of Cordoba, ending the War of Independence, declaring Mexico a free country.
- January, 1811
Father Costilla is Executed by Spanish Forces.
His army, made up of loyal revolutionaries, continued to fight in his honor.
- September 16, 1810
El Grito de Delores (The Cry of Delores)
Father Costilla delivers his legendary speech, spurring the population to revolt against Spanish rule.
- April 21, 1519
300 Years of Spanish Rule
Spanish commander Hernán Cortés and his soldiers anchor off the Mexican coast, and the conquest and destruction of the mighty Aztec Empire begins.
Mexican Independence Day FAQs
Can you watch the President of Mexico reenact the The Cry of Dolores in person?
Yes. If you travel to Mexico City and go to the National Palace on September 15 around 11 p.m., you can be among the 500,000 people watching the President ring the bell of Hidalgo and recite The Cry of Delores in person.
Why is Mexican Independence Day not as popular a holiday as Cinco de Mayo is in the United States?
Some experts in international relations think that Cinco de Mayo is more popular in the USA because it celebrates Mexican culture overall and does not celebrate the start of a war in another country, which Mexican Independence Day does.
Where exactly is the town of Delores in Mexico?
Dolores, the charming colonial town where Father Hidalgo gave his famous Cry of Delores speech, is located in central Mexico. The church where Hidalgo gave his famous speech still stands and there is a museum dedicated to his life in town as well as affordable hotels in the area.
Mexican Independence Day Activities
Grab a table at your local Mexican restaurant
Just like you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t have to be Mexican to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. Enjoy the festivities while you enjoy a hearty, flavorful meal and an ice cold cerveza.
Fly the Mexican flag
No matter where you live, celebrate Mexico’s independence by displaying the country’s distinctive green, white, and red flag. The vertical stripes represent — in order — independence, Roman Catholicism, and unity.
Watch or listen to the live broadcast of El Grito de Delores reenactment
Settle down in front of your TV or radio when the President of Mexico delivers El Grito de Delores, complete with bell ringing, at 11 p.m. on September 15. Then let the party begin!
5 Cool Facts About Mexican Independence Day
Eat the colors of the Mexican flag
Chiles En Nogada (poblano chiles stuffed with savory meat) features the three colors of the Mexican flag: green (fresh parsley), white (walnut cream sauce), and red (pomegranate seeds).
A Mexican household favorite
Beans are a staple of Mexican cooking, so buy some fresh pinto or black beans and whip up a hearty Mexican meal of Frijoles de la Olla (beans in a pot), which is basically a pot of simmered beans mixed with onion and garlic and topped with fresh sour cream.
Wash it down
Skip commonplace beverages like beer and margaritas and offer something different, like a traditional Mexican ponche (fruit punch) made from sugarcane, oranges, pears, guavas, raisins, and apples seasoned with cinnamon and clove.
Que es Queso?
Queso is the Spanish word for cheese, and the only thing cheesier than an overdramatic Mexican telenovela is Queso Fundido, a traditional Mexican fondue of melted white cheese simmered with lime juice, hot sauce and garlic.
Menudo, a rich, hearty stew made from stew beef, hominy (corn kernels), tripe (cow stomach lining) that’s cooked with onion, garlic, lime, and cilantro, is considered to be a traditional hangover cure for those who imbibe a few too many cervezas on September 16.
Why We Love Mexican Independence Day
It celebrates freedom
Just like July 4 in America or Bastille Day in France, Mexican Independence Day celebrates freedom. And we think there is nothing sweeter than freedom, unless you count Mazapán, a sweet peanut flavored Mexican candy.
Two day fiesta
Even though the official day of celebration is September 16, when banks, schools, and businesses are closed, many folks start gearing up on September 15, climaxing with the President’s reading of El Grito de Delores live on TV at 11p.m.
It’s not Cinco de Mayo
We love that Mexican Independence Day honors a brave holy man who gave his life to free his country. Cinco de Mayo is fun, but it’s so commercialized that most people who hit the bars for tequila shots and 2-for-1 taco specials on May 5th don’t even know that it commemorates a long ago historical battle.
Mexican Independence Day Featured Videos
Mexican Independence Day 2018