September 16 is Mexican Independence Day, the holiday during which Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain. The holiday is celebrated with massive, nationwide parties, festivals, and merriment. Think along the lines of American Fourth of July celebrations and you’ve got the right idea.
It’s a major national holiday in Mexico, and the last major Summer celebration before the Fall creeps in.
September 16 is also, ironically, National Guacamole Day in the US. Given that guacamole is a common dish at Mexican Independence parties, it makes sense to see it get its own day of celebration on September 16, as well. The sour, creamy, avocado-based spread is a favorite in Mexico and throughout the world.
History of Mexican Independence
Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1810, on September 16. This was a short 35 years after the United States had done the same to England, and Mexico was eager to win its own independence. To mark the declaration, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in the village of Delores rang the church bell in the center of town and gave a rousing, impassioned speech.
The priest’s speech gave voice to a disaffected and rebellious Mexican population. The people rallied around the cause of independence, and so began the War of Independence from Spain. In the modern era, that same church bell is rung by the president of Mexico the night before celebrations begin.
Spain harshly ruled Mexico, which it called “New Spain,” for over 300 years. The indigenous people were treated as second-class citizens. Only native-born Spaniards could hold offices of power. Farmland and possessions were regularly confiscated by the colonizers.
The war itself was brutal and lasted a decade. Fighting was intense and exhausting. Finally, in 1821, on August 24, the Spanish conceded, allowing the Mexican fighters their own rule.
Festivities are far-ranging and intense throughout the day of September 16. Mariachi performances, city-wide festivals, and massive feasts are common sights throughout Mexico. Interestingly, the massive celebrations thrown for the independence day were inspired, partly, by Fourth of July celebrations.
Mexican celebrants, wanting to commemorate their own independence with equal fervor, turned the day into a full-blown celebration of all things Mexico.
Notably, September 16 is not the same celebration as Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a different Mexican victory: the 1862 Battle of Puebla. During that battle, the outnumbered Mexican forces defeated the powerful French militia.
While the celebrations of the two days are similar, September 16 is a much bigger celebration in Mexico. For whatever reason, Cinco de Mayo is more popular in the US.