Viva Mexico! Three important observations about Mexican Independence Day, September 16th.

As I write this, my family and I are enjoying a beautiful Mexican Independence Day celebration at home, away from any crowded places. With the pandemic still raging on, we continue to take precautions and limit our exposure to others as much as possible. So in light of our reduced ability to go out and celebrate, I decided now would be a good opportunity to describe our experience with this holiday.

After three years of celebrating Mexican Independence Day, we have learned a few things. First, food is a very important part of Independence Day celebrations. While food is an important aspect of all of Mexican culture, it is also very regional. What may be popular in one part of Mexico may not be commonly found in another part. We live in the state of Guanajuato. The most popular traditional food in Guanajuato for Independence Day is Chiles en Nogada. You can find this food everywhere in the weeks leading up to September 16th. It consists of a poblano pepper stuffed with a mixture of meat, nuts, and spices, giving it a slightly sweet flavor. A creamy, white sauce is poured over the stuffed pepper and pomegranate seeds are sprinkled over the top. This signature dish of Independence Day includes the colors of the Mexican flag, red, white, and green. It is only seasonally available, so foreign visitors can only try this dish in the weeks leading up to September 16th. It is delicious and worth trying at least once…or several times.

Chiles en Nogales in El Pagaso. Photo by Angela Grier

The second observation we have made is that clothing and decor is an important part of the celebration. Children and adults wear the colors of the Mexican flag on September 15th and 16th. Many cars and trucks display Mexican flags flying from their windows. Houses and yards, plazas, parks, and public buildings all display Mexican flags, banners, and other decorations. Everywhere you go, there are carts full of Independence Day clothing and accessories, toys and balloons, flags and other decorations available for purchase. These carts are found scattered throughout the traditional market areas, the plazas, and even outside the Walmarts and other big retail stores. It’s a big business, and everyone participates. There is so much energy and anticipation on September 15th. It’s a fun day to be out in public spaces.

City Hall of Leon, Guanajuato. Photo by Angela Grier
Independence Day celebration at school. Photo by Angela Grier
A cart full of Independence Day-themed items for sale. Photo by Angela Grier

That brings me to my third and final observation – an important part that we did not understand when we experienced our first Independence Day. September 15th is a big day as well. It is the day of El Grito, translated as the scream or the yell/cry. It originally happened in Dolores Hidalgo, the birthplace of Mexican Independence, and initiated the Mexican War for Independence in 1810. The way the Mexican people celebrate it is by reenacting El Grito all across the country at midnight on September 15th. That officially kicks off the Independence Day celebrations. The biggest, best attended, and most televised El Grito takes place in Mexico City outside the Palacio Nacional where the Mexican president chants the traditional cheer. At this point, we still have not experienced El Grito ourselves, but we hope to do so once the pandemic is behind us. If we do, you can be sure that I will blog the entire experience.

Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!

Published by Angela.Grier

I'm a wife of an engineer and a mom of two elementary-aged children, a boy and a girl. I was a fisheries biologist for several years, a stay-at-home mom for three years, then a middle school science teacher for three years. I currently live in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico with my family. I have a WIDE variety of interests, too many according to my husband. I quilt, crochet, knit, scrapbook. I sometimes play piano when I need peaceful moments. I love to cook, especially anything containing eggs (someday I need to raise chickens in order to feed my egg addiction). I read voraciously, books of all genres from Stephen King to Robert Jordan, Libba Bray to Edward Robertson, Grace Burrowes to Kim Harrison. I like to run, especially in races (I'm only a little competitive). I love to fish, camp, and hike wherever there are wild spaces. And if there were more hours in the day, I'd probably fill those extra hours learning a new skill or revisiting the ones I did not include in this list because it's been so long since I last did them.

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