To be clear, this is not Cinco de Mayo! Mexican Independence Day is an entirely different holiday celebrated in Mexico. On September 16, 1810, Mexico revolted against the Spaniards for Independence. Today, Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, fiestas, food, dance and music. The Mexican flag is flown high and its colors—red, white and green—decorate the entire country. Whistles, horns, and confetti are also a part of this festive occasion. In the streets you’ll hear “Viva Mexico” or “Viva la independencia”!
Mexico’s independence began when Miguel Hidalgo, one of the leaders of the War of Independence, made the cry of independence (El Grito de la Independencia) in the town of Dolores (now called Dolores Hidalgo) in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. This is why Mexican Independence Day is often called Grito de Dolores, or “cry of Dolores”. Hidalgo’s cry of independence was meant to motivate people to revolt against the Spanish regime.
Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama were two Mexican rebels in Hidalgo’s core of insurgents, but Hidalgo is remembered for being the one to bring the revolution to the public eye. Hidalgo’s army fought the Spaniards in the fight for independence, but Hidalgo was captured and executed on July 30, 1811. Mexico’s independence was not officially won until September 28, 1821.
Today the Mexican president heralds the start of the celebration at 11pm precisely on September 15 each year. The president gives a speech on the balcony of his palace, and the public cheers in celebration, while singing the Mexican national anthem. The president reads Hidalgo’s famous words and rings a bell to officially kick things off. An estimated 500,000 citizens and tourists gather at the National Palace in Mexico City for this celebration.
If you plan to celebrate Mexican Independence Day in Playa del Carmen, or elsewhere in Riviera Maya, be prepared to start celebrating on the evening of September 15. On the streets of Playa del Carmen, fireworks will go off, and vendors will be selling noisemakers, hats, flags, and anything else patriotic. Look for a large tent on the central park in front of the City Hall. This is where the festivities will be located.
If you’re traveling in Mexico during this time, keep in mind that this is a public holiday and banks, schools, government offices and many businesses are closed.
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