Happy Dia De La Independencia!

That’s Spanish for Independence Day. Mexico’s is on September 16
BY: ALEJANDRA SARACHAGA

We tell you this every year, but we’re going to do it again: Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. Our actual Independence Day is coming up on September 16.

For Mexicans, celebrating our Independence Day means celebrating the day that Mexicans and all the people living is this territory got their independence from the Spaniards in 1819. Mexico was declared a free country with its own rules, and later, its own constitution.

Gaining our independence from Spain was really a big deal, considering that Mexicans had been enslaved by the Spaniards for 300 years. In the early 1500s, Spain took control of Mexico and renamed it New Spain. For the next three centuries, the Mexican people were forced to labor in mines and on farms for the Spaniards.

diaind.JPGThe man who led the Mexican war for independence was a priest. Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, more commonly known as Father Hidalgo gave El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Pain) to his congregation, which was basically the rally cry signaling the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire was finally declared on September 16, 1821. (Although the first presidential election wouldn’t be held for another two years.)

Obviously, this is one of the most important holidays for Mexicans and we really like to make a big deal of it. All the main streets, in every single town throughout the country, are decorated with the Mexican flags and colored lights, and houses and cars are decorated in national colors too. Men and women dress in traditional outfits; charros (traditional horsemen outfits) for men and china poblanas (big colorful dresses) for women, and everyone makes as much noise as they can!

There are many ways they can really whoop it up. One way is going to the Delegación here in Cabo or to the Palacio Municipal in San José, to see the Presidente Municipal (our mayor), come out the balcony at 11 p.m. on Septemeber 15 and yell out loud “VIVA MEXICO!” three times. Then he rings a bell, waves our flag and the people in the massive crowd that has gathered makes noise with clarinet, whistles, clappers, whatever we have handy. And then the fireworks start.

In La Paz, if it is the governor who does it, and if it happens that you are driving, you will hear a lot of people honking their horn. All this is to honor Father Hidalgo, and his El Grito de Dolores battle cry, the event that sparked'sof.

Another way we Mexicans celebrate Independence Day is by gathering at someone’s house, dress in folk clothing, or at least wear the Mexican flag colors, eat Mexican dishes, turn the TV on and watch the Presidente de la República give the “Viva La Mexico!” cry in México City.

So, here is where the “carritos” (little merchant carts) come in. You’ll see guys pushing these merchandise carts all over town, and you can buy all kind of paraphernalia from them.There are Mexican flags, of course, in all sizes and for all purposes; to decorate your house, your office, your car, or yourself. Whistles, toy horns, stickers, dresses for little girls, Mexican dolls, bobby pins, the image of St. Jude and the Guadalupe Virgin decorated with the Mexican flag colors, clappers, fake mustaches, necklaces, earrings, pinwheels, key chains… the list goes on and on. If you’re visiting, it’s a great way to get all your souvenir shopping in one stop.

Mexican Independence Day is not only celebrated in Mexico, but in Mexican communities all over the world. Many major U.S. cities that have large Mexican populations, like Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego, have big celebrations for Independence Day.