¡Feliz 16 de septiembre! Celebrating Mexico's Independence Day


In the early morning hours of September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest from Dolores, Guanajuato, rang the church’s bell. The people from Dolores gathered at the church. There, Hidalgo called for the Mexican people to revolt against Spanish rule, which had presided over Mexico for over three centuries. Hidalgo’s Grito de Dolores, or Cry of Dolores, officially declared Mexico’s independence from Spain.

The Grito de Dolores or Grito de la Independencia is celebrated in Mexico and by Mexicans all across the world on September 16 every year, or at midnight on September 15, to be more customary. Even though Mexico did not achieve independence from Spain until 1821, September 16 continues to be the date in which Mexico’s independence is celebrated.

Around 1519, Spaniards arrived in what is now Mexico, more than 500 years ago. They conquered the land and renamed it New Spain. Before Spanish rule, indigenous tribes, mostly Aztecs and Mayans, ruled the land. The Spanish took over the Aztec’s and Mayan’s empires, lands, crops, and economy, forcing the indigenous people into slavery and oppression.

Having endured more than three centuries of Spanish rule and cruelty, Mexicans like Hidalgo had had enough and were ready to start a revolution.

Many Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and their amigXs celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16, which is largely confused with Cinco de Mayo. If you want to know more about the actuality of Cinco de Mayo, read our story here! They do so by popping fireworks, hosting parties, or fiestas, dancing to traditional Mexican music and eating traditional Mexican cuisine. Many town squares in Mexico celebrate by hosting events where people can watch folklorico dancers perform and listen to mariachi groups play.

Because we’re living in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, much of the traditional and customary celebrations won’t be taking place. Instead, many Mexican families and friends are opting to celebrate virtually or just with the ones inside their homes. If you are still continuing social distancing and abiding by safety regulations, you can still celebrate 16 de septiembre, el Día de la Independencia, by gathering with those in your own house while you play and dance to rancheras or mariachi music. You can wear traditional Mexican garb such as a China Poblana, a traditional dress worn during El Jarabe Tapatío, or a charro suit.

You can also ask a grown-up to prepare a traditional Mexican dish like flautas with guacamole, salsa roja-or red sauce-, and sour cream, which, when combined, resemble the colors of the Mexican flag.

No matter how you celebrate, it is important to remember Mexico’s history and to be proud about our own Mexican heritage. Celebrating 16 de septiembre isn’t only about celebrating Mexico’s independence from Spain, it is also about honoring the past of our parents, our grandparents, and our ancestors.

¡Viva Mexico!

VOCABULARY:

Revolt: rebel, rise in rebellion. Preside: to occupy authority or control.

Customary: according to customs by a particular society.

Oppression: long, unjust treatment of a group of people or population.

Opt(ing): choosing something from a list of things.

Abiding/abide: act accordingly with a rule or law.

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Southwest LatinX, home of the LatinXplorers, is a nonprofit organization in El Paso, Texas. We focus on providing local LatinX youth with curated workshops, after-school programs, conferences, and community engagement efforts geared toward empowering their self-worth/self-esteem and cultural identity while enhancing their educational experience. We envision a prosperous future where more LatinXs comprise a larger percentage of lucrative industries and higher education. 

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