On September 16, 1810 a priest by the name Father Miguel Hidalgo proclaimed “El Grito,” or “The Cry of Independence” in a small town in Guanajuato, Mexico, starting that spark that ignited Mexico’s journey to independence.
Yes, today (and not Cinco de Mayo) is Mexican Independence. Although Cinco de Mayo was a crucial date in Mexico’s history, let’s set the record straight… it is not the same as Mexico’s Independence Day. In fact, today, Latinos all across the globe celebrate this heroic cry for freedom with fiestas far larger and more extravagant than any Cinco de Mayo celebrations! If parades, fireworks, live music and dancing is your idea of a party– then you’ll definitely want to be a part of these celebrations. Take a look!
There are four essential rules to celebrating Mexican Independence Day:
- Eat pozole
- Drink tequila (or mezcal)
- Listen to Mariachi music
- Wear Mexico’s national colors (red, white and green)
In Mexico, celebrations start extra early– a day early to be exact! On September 15th, the day before their official Independence Day, families sprint home from shortened work and school days to commence the fiesta. Festivities begin with a lavish dinner; mouthwatering traditional Mexican dishes are prepared. Tamales, chiles en nogada (a dish made of poblano chiles stuffed with meat and dried fruit, in Mexico flag colors) — and of course, pozole (a soup made of hominy and pork, topped with crunchy fried corn tortillas) are just a few foods that align the table for the much-anticipated feast.
After dinner, crowds rush to the National Palace to watch the president of Mexico ring the bell and reenact the famous “El Grito.” At the end of the call, crowds erupt with shouts of “Viva Mexico!” as they march through the streets carrying Mexican flags, blowing whistles and horns. It’s all things red, white and green along the streets in celebration; everything from the lights, balloons, streamers, flowers and paper lanterns are in national colors.
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention… don’t forget your dancing shoes! Join the crowds tapping their feet along to live mariachi bands or stand back to watch the professionals, geared-up in traditional garb, as they strut their skills in bailes folclóricos or traditional dances.
Can’t make it to Mexico to celebrate this year? Lucky for you there are quite a few places right here in the U.S., where you can still fiesta your heart out:
Phoenix, Arizona: Head to the Fiesta Patrias– Arizona‘s largest Mexican Independence Day celebration. Every year, thousands of people gather in Arizona’s capital to enjoy live music, carnival rides and tons of food– all for free!
Los Angeles, California: Start the morning off with this L.A. parade that has been said to rival the original in Mexico City! Celebrities such as professional boxer Oscar De La Hoya will be among the hundreds of celebrators at the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic parade.
Houston, Texas: Everything’s bigger in Texas… and Mexican Independence Day celebrations here are no exception! One of the largest El Grito celebrations in the U.S. is held in Houston. Every year, this Texan city is transformed for Mexican Independence Day celebrations as people travel from all over the country to watch traditional dances, and listen to live music… what could be better?!
Las Vegas, Nevada: If you’re looking for a star-studded, over-the-top fiesta to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, Las Vegas is where you need to be. Get ready to dance the night away as you watch world-renowned artists such as Enrique Iglesias. Jennifer Lopez and Ricky Martin grace the stages at iconic Vegas venues.
Have a fiesta or tradition you’d like to add to the list? Let us know how you’ll be celebrating El Grito this year in the comments below!