Mexico was originally a colony under the Spanish rule. Its independence war from the European power started in 1810, while Europe was engulfed in Napoleonic wars. The Mexican people celebrate their independence from the Spanish colonial rule on the 16th of September every year.
Here are ten fascinating facts about Mexico’s Independence Day that you probably did not know about.
Mexico Was Called New Spain Before Independence
The Spanish conquered present day Mexico from the Aztec Empire. Under the Spanish rule, the region comprising modern day Mexico (and parts of Texas and California) was called the Viceroyalty of New Spain.
The War for Independence Lasted More Than a Decade
Conspiracies for independence began in 1809. The Spanish government identified, captured, and executed a number of rebels involved in the first movement. The rebellion began next year on the 15th of September, 1810. Large scale uprising started the next day on the 16th of September.
The war lasted for 11 years and ended in 1821 when the Spanish government finally acceded to the demands of the rebellion leaders. The declaration of Independence was formally made on the 28th of September 1821 by the newly formed Mexican government.
The Rebellion was started by a Priest
Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor was the full name of the man responsible for starting the rebellion. He is commonly known as Father Hidalgo.
He was not a military general but a Roman Catholic priest who had a warrant out for his arrest for sedition. He rang the bells of his church at 11pm on the 15th of September 1810 to call forth a congregation of people. The next day, he rallied and began the rebellion with his congregation from the city of Delores.
The Original Date for Rebellion was the 2nd of October
The rebels were planning to start their movement on the 2nd of October 1810. However, the Spanish government had become aware of the plot. They were quickly arresting and executing various rebel leaders.
Father Hidalgo decided to start the rebellion sooner and moved the date to the 16th of September.
Father Hidalgo was Captured and Killed in 1811
The rebels were ill-prepared to fight against the organized Spanish military and suffered quick setbacks early on during their campaign. Father Hidalgo was captured and killed in 1811, within the first year of the rebellion.
However, he was only one of the several rebel leaders. Others carried on the fighting for 11 years until the Spanish resources were depleted, and the war ended in a victory for Mexico.
Mexican Independence War was Fought by Ordinary People
Most of the insurgents were not trained soldiers but ordinary people, including farmers, tradesmen and laborers. They fought for a change in the hierarchal power structure of the land. The rebel groups had people from all walks of life that were common at that time.
It is a 2 Day Celebration
Mexican independence celebration is a two day event. It starts at 11pm on the 15th of September when the day is remembered for the Cry of Dolores. Proper celebrations are carried out the next day as Independence Day on the 16th of September.
Most people wrongly assume that Cinco de Mayo, celebrated on the 5th of May is the national Independence Day in Mexico. That is not true. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated to remember the Mexican victory over the Spanish forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The events are different from one another.
The Reenactment of the Event
To start the independence celebrations, the President of Mexico rings the bells at the National Palace in Mexico City. He proceeds to recite a variation of the speech ‘El Grito de Dolores’. The Grito was the original speech that was first given by Father Hidalgo to his followers, in 1810.
The actual wording of the original speech is lost. Historians believe there are many variations in the current version of the speech from the original. It is a more toned down version of the original.
Mexican Independence is Celebrated in Many Places
Apart from the celebrations carried out inside Mexico, the day is also celebrated outside the country in areas that have a large Mexican population. Many major cities, including Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego, have large celebrations for ‘Dia De La Independencia’, the day of Independence.
Mexican Independence Day is a Very Lively Event
The Mexicans celebrate their independence with all sorts of lively festivities, ceremonies, music, and food. Whether you live in Mexico City or a rural community, you are sure to find fireworks, parades, reenactments, local music, traditional foods, and much more if you go out into the streets on the 16th of September.
Related: Fun Facts About Mexico