The biggest celebration in Mexico is only a couple days away! You may be thinking to yourself, “but wait, Cinco de Mayo was months ago?” You’re right-- Cinco de Mayo was months ago, but we’re talking about Dia de la Independencia (Independence Day). Every 16th of September is Mexico’s grandest fiesta as the entire country celebrates their nation’s independence from Spanish rule. Today we’re sharing 5 facts you may not know about this historic day in Mexican history.
The War Was Led By a Priest
Miguel Hidalgo y Costillo was the Roman Catholic Priest who led the Mexican Independence movement against Spanish rule beginning in 1810. Hidalgo was born in May 1753 in Guanajuato, Mexico and entered priesthood in 1779. In 1808 he became the leader of an underground independence movement that focused on nationalism and political liberty. It was on September 16, 1810, when authorities tried to arrest him, that Father Hidalgo y Costillo gathered his followers and launched the rebellion with his “Grito de Dolores”-- and so began the Mexican War of Independence.
It’s a Two Day Celebration
Mexico officially begins to celebrate its independence from Spain the night of September 15 as part of the fiestas patrias (patriotic holidays) and continue the festivities into September 16 (Dia de la Independencia). This tradition commemorates Father Miguel Hidalgo’s famous cry for independence known as the “Grito de Dolores”. El Dia de la Independencia is without a doubt, the most important day of celebration for Mexico. So important, that the entire month of September is referred to as “el mes de la patria” (month of the homeland). Festivities include music, re-enactments of “El Grito”, fireworks, and plenty of traditional food.
The importance of El Grito de Dolores
The “Cry from Dolores” better known as el “Grito de Dolores” was the battle cry for the Mexican War of Independence led by Father Hidalgo y Costillo on September 16, 1810. With the ringing of the church bell, Father Hidalgo y Costillo called on the townspeople to gather their weapons and go against the Spanish Crown. The event was named after the town Dolores Hidalgo in the state of Guanajuato where it took place. The “Grito de Dolores” sparked the uprising of the Mexican people against the Spanish and is considered the commencement of the Mexican War of Independence.
Chiles en Nogada
A festive dish typically served throughout the month of September in celebration of Mexico’s Independence. The dish itself resembles the Mexican flag with its green, white, and red colors and consists of stuffed poblano chiles covered in nogada (a walnut cream sauce). Legend has it that this traditional dish was first created and served in Puebla, Mexico to Mexican military commander Augustin de Iturbide after he signed the Treaty of Cordoba, officially granting Mexico its independence from Spain.
The First National Flag Was Created in 1821
The Mexican flag is full of national symbolism. First created in 1821, the design of the original flag (green, white, and red with an image of an eagle holding a serpent) remains true today-- with a few changes made to the design of the emblem of the eagle. The green stands for the independence movement of 1810-1821, the white represents the Catholic faith, and the red represents both the Spaniards who joined the independence movement and helped fight and the blood that was lost in battle. The emblem of the eagle holding the serpent symbolizes the Aztec heritage of Mexico. The design of this coat of arms comes from an Aztec legend where Aztec gods told the Aztec people to build a city where they spotted an eagle on a cactus eating a serpent-- this city is now known as Mexico City.