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Mexican Traditions: Celebrating Independence Day

Mexican Traditions: Celebrating Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day is September 16. It’s a keenly anticipated, fiesta-packed holiday observed to celebrate Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1810. It’s a day suffused with national pride, including mariachi concerts, colorful parades and lots of sabrosa (delicious) food.

Mexican citizens and people of Mexican heritage around the world commemorate this landmark event in their nation’s history, when Father Hidalgo, a Catholic priest, rang his church bell and delivered his Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores), a powerful speech that demanded the end of Spanish rule. His cry of freedom set in motion a War of Independence from Spain. (In modern times, the President of Mexico rings that same bell, now over 200 years old, live on TV at 11:00 p.m. the night before the holiday).

Outside of Mexico, many people confuse Mexican Independence Day with Cinco de Mayo. They are very different. Cinco de Mayo celebrates another victory, when an outnumbered Mexican army defeated a powerful French militia during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is fun, but it’s a commercialized holiday popular mainly in the U.S. Most people outside Mexico who hit bars and restaurants for tequila shots and taco specials on May 5 don’t even know it commemorates a 19th century battle.

On the other hand, Mexican Independence Day honors a very brave padre who gave his life to free his country. After a brutal war that lasted more than a decade, Spain withdrew on August 24, 1821 and officially recognized Mexico as an independent country. Today, Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is known as the Father of Mexican Independence.

Since that momentous day on September 16, 1810, Mexican Independence Day has evolved into a colossal nationwide celebration. Inspired in part by America’s July 4 Independence Day festivities, Mexico goes all out. The day is marked by patriotic speeches, live music, spirited fiestas, dancing in the streets and home-cooked feasts. Red, white and green floral arrangements--the colors of the Mexican flag--are seen everywhere across Mexico and in cities worldwide with big Mexican populations. Fireworks fill the skies at night from Cancun to Los Cabos.

Here are a few tips for visitors. In the same way you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day, you don’t have to be Mexican to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. That includes blowing whistles and tooting horns. Patronize a local cantina and enjoy a flavorsome meal. If possible, order Chiles En Nogada: poblano chiles stuffed with savory meat and fruit that features the three colors of the Mexican flag: green (fresh parsley), white (walnut cream sauce) and red (pomegranate seeds).

Tequila, mezcal, sangria and beer flow freely on Independence Day, but don’t overlook traditional Mexican ponche (fruit punch) made from sugarcane, oranges, pears, guavas, raisins and apples seasoned with cinnamon and clove.

Overserved and feeling a little rocky the following day? Menudo, a rich, hearty stew made from stew beef, hominy (corn kernels), and tripe (cow stomach lining) cooked with onion, garlic, cilantro and lime, is a traditional hangover cure for those who imbibe too much on September 16.

Celebrations with special dinners to enjoy traditional food and drinks are scheduled to take place at the at the following restaurants:

  • Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach:
    • LaFrida - Tasting menu (Mexican flavors)
    • La Nao – Mexican Buffet
  • Pueblo Bonito Rosé:
    • Mare Nostrum – Mexican Buffet
  • Montecristo:
    • Cibola – Mexican Buffet
  • Pueblo Bonito Pacifica:
    • Aire (pool area) – Mexican Buffet
  • Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan:
    • La Cordelier – Mexican Buffet
    • Palomas – Mexican Buffet