Mexican Independence Day

Everything you need to know about Mexico's most patriotic holiday

Mexico's independence from Spain is celebrated every year in September. From the beginning of the month, Mexico's streets and buildings are festooned with an explosion of green, white and red, but the main events occur on the evening of the 15th, when crowds gather in town squares across the nation to shout "Viva México!" and on the 16th with parades and other civic celebrations. Mexican patriotic spirit is embodied in a multitude of popular traditions. This is what you should know about this important national holiday.

  • 01 of 06

    When is Mexican Independence Day?

    Mexican Independence Day decoration
    ••• © Suzanne Barbezat

    This holiday is also referred to in Mexico by the date of the event: el Dieciseis de Septiembre (the 16th of September). It is one of Las Fiestas Patrias (the patriotic festivals), and is celebrated on the night of September 15 and all day on the 16th. This is one of the most important fiestas of the year in Mexico, and the whole month of September is referred to as el mes de la patria (month of the homeland). Some people outside of Mexico may confuse this holiday with Cinco de Mayo, but that is a different celebration (and a much less important one in Mexico).

    Read also: Festivals and Events in Mexico in September

  • 02 of 06

    El Grito de Dolores

    The Oaxaca Zocalo on September 15
    ••• © Suzanne Barbezat

    Mexico's War of Independence officially began in the early hours of September 16, 1810, when the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bell and cried out to the townspeople to take up arms and rise up against the Spanish Crown, an event which is known as el grito de Dolores (the cry of Dolores), named after the town in Guanajuato state where it took place. Within no time the priest had assembled a large and unruly but resolute mob to march with him toward Mexico City, sparking the uprising against Spanish rule.

    Learn more about the history of the Cry of Dolores, and where to celebrate "El Grito".

  • 03 of 06

    The Mexican War of Independence

    Miguel Hidalgo mural
    ••• The Mexican War of Independence, mural by Juan O'Gorman. © Suzanne Barbezat

    The Mexican War of Independence was an armed conflict between the people of Mexico and Spanish colonial authorities. The movement was initiated by criollos (Mexican-born people of Spanish descent), with mestizos (people of mixed indigenous and European heritage) and native people joining in the struggle, though each of these groups had different motives and goals. The war lasted over a decade, and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Córdoba on August 24, 1821, ending three centuries of Spanish rule.

  • 04 of 06

    Mexico's National Symbols

    Mexico's Coat of Arms
    ••• Mexico's Coat of Arms

    Mexico's flag, the coat of arms, and the national anthem are Mexico's national symbols (los símbolos patrios), and they feature prominently in Independence Day celebrations and decorations. Read more about these national symbols:

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    How to celebrate

    Mexican Independence Day Parade
    ••• Photo Susana Gonzalez / Getty Images

    The day is celebrated with fireworks, flags, food, and parades. On the night of September 15th the cry of Dolores is re-enacted by local politicians in the public squares of most cities and towns throughout the country. On September 16 there are parades and civic ceremonies commemorating Mexico's independence. September 16 is a national holiday in Mexico: all schools, banks, and government offices are closed. For some fun ideas on how to celebrate, check out 10 Ways to Celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

  • 06 of 06

    Patriotic Mexican Foods

    ••• Photo by Masa Assassin, Creative Commons

    Chiles en Nogada is a Mexican dish which has the colors of the Mexican flag, and they're a favorite food for this holiday. Pozole, a soup made of hominy and pork is also a popular food for Independence Day celebrations. As for drinks, tequila and mezcal fit the bill. For a really festive touch, try a Mexican flag shooter. To learn about some popular foods that are perfect for celebrating Mexico, see 6 Festive Mexican Dishes.