Many mexicans will tell you that they are not happy with how the government is running the country currently, that corruption and backhanders are commonplace. That there is a huge wealth gap and many are treated unfairly. And so because of this it can seem strange to outsiders for Mexicans to show such unwavering faith and love for their country, for national pride to run so deep.
But with such a long history of war and rebellion, being proud of being Mexican is not necessarily about current day events. It’s about a long fought fight for freedom, it's about tenacity and loyalty. Mexicans truly hold dear the beauty and cultural richness of their country and it shines most on Mexico Independence Day when the country comes together to celebrate its victory in the war for independence from Spain.
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Here’s 10 interesting Mexico Independence Day facts:
1. Mexico Was Called New Spain
In 1521 Spain conquered what is now known as Mexico, several southern US states and much of the rest of Central America. Natives were stripped of their land and forced into positions of slavery for more than 300 years. During this time the area under Spanish rule was called the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
2. Conspiracies Began In 1809
Before the start of the war for independence on the 16th September 1810, many rebels had been identified, captured and executed by the Spanish Government. Both the USA and France supported the Mexican war for independence. With France later trying to invade Mexico themselves - but that's a whole other story.
3. A Priest Led The War
With knowledge of a warrant for his arrest, a Roman Catholic priest named Father Miguel Hidalgo led the war for independence. He rang the bells of his church at 11pm on the 15th September 1810 and called in the people of the town of Dolores.
4. It Started With The Cry of Dolores
In the early hours of 16th September 1810 Hidalgo called on his congregation to rally and rebel against Spanish rule through a powerful speech known as ‘El Grito de Dolores’. It ended with ‘Viva Mexico’ and ‘Viva la independencia’.
5. It’s A Two Day Celebration
Because of above events, the Mexico Independence Day celebrations actually happen over two days; starting at 11pm on the 15th September with The Day of the Cry of Dolores, followed by Independence Day on the 16th.
6. The War Lasted 11 Years
Hidalgo was captured and executed in 1811, but many brave others carried on the fight over the next 11 years that it took for Spain to grant Mexico its independence in 1821. Mexico Independence Day is celebrated from the day the war started to honor those who fought for it.
7. There Is An Annual Reenactment
Although the actual wording has been lost, a variation of the The Cry of Dolores speech is recited every year at 11pm on the 15th September by the current president of the country and city officials throughout Mexico.
8. Huge Celebrations Happen
Mid September in Mexico sees the country decorated with Mexican flags and the streets are coloured with parties, parades and fireworks. Mexico Independence Day is a National Holiday and banks, government offices, schools and most workplaces are closed. Celebrations also take place in Mexican communities around the world, particularly in Texas, Houston and Los Angeles.
9. The National Flag Was Created in 1821
The green stands for the independence movement of 1810-1821, the white the importance of Catholic faith to the Mexicans, and the red represents the Spanish that helped in the fight for independence and the blood that was spilt. The central emblem of the eagle holding a serpent on a cactus is representative of the pre-hispanic Aztec empire.
10. Cinco de Mayo Is A Different Thing
In other parts of the world another important Mexican National holiday, Cinco de Mayo, is often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day. Cinco de Mayo actually stands to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on 5th May 1862.
So there you have it, part of the history behind why Mexicans are so fiercely protective and proud of the country, traditions and roots. Have you been to Mexico? Tell us in a comment what you love most about Mexican culture.