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Sunday, October 1, 2023

How to celebrate Independence Day like a Mexican

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Independence Day is a big deal in México, and though there is no wrong way to celebrate, you may want to keep a few things in mind. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

There is no wrong way to celebrate, just as long as you do it safely. If cracking open a Corona and eating nachos or even ordering a pizza is what you want to do, nobody will judge you.  

Just refrain from posting tacky pictures of yourself online with a poncho, sombrero, or maracas because we (yes, all of Mexico) will make fun of you for that. 

Mexican Independence Day, or Día de la Independencia, is celebrated on Sept. 16 every year to commemorate independence from Spain in 1810.

But the real parties take place during the evening and night of Sept.15, with recreations of the church bells in the town of Dolores in what is called the “Cry of Dolores” or simply the “Grito.”

From late August to mid-September, merchants selling flags, pins, and patriotic apparel can be seen everywhere across Mexico. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

That said, the entire month of September is referred to by Mexicans as “fiestas patrias.”

Traditional food during this time of year varies by region, but there are a few staples, including Pozole from Jalisco and Chiles en Nogada from Puebla, which are especially well-known. 

How to make Chiles en Nogada, Mexico’s most patriotic dish (video).

But tlayudas from Oaxaca, México City-style tamales, and cochinta pibil from Yucatán are all common at celebrations all around the country.

Then, of course, there are the libations. And boy, are there ever a lot of libations.

Overdoing it, just a little, is almost expected on Sept. 15. Beer and mezcal are always popular, but the holiday would simply not be the same without a nice tequila. 

Remember, just like Champagne is only sparkling white whine if it does not come to the Champaign region of France, the same goes for tequila, which has to be sourced in the correct location. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

In Mérida, there are always lots of options for fun during the eve of Independence Day. Restaurants and bars, especially those downtown, are usually full of loads of locals, expats, and tourists.

The main plaza, or zócalo, or virtually every town and city in the country recreated the grito among cries of “Viva Mexico!” to the sound of fireworks.

The event is almost always led by the highest-ranking government official in each city, with celebrations in state capitals being overseen by governors, while in Mexico City the honor goes to the president.

Most Mexicans are usually fine to briefly suspend their political alliances for this brief period, which is quite special since the country has become so polarized. 

In larger cities, like Mérida, this can be quite a spectacle, and well worth checking out, especially if you have never done so before.

Then again, lots of folks prefer to avoid the crowds and just stay at home for a nice family meal and to watch the fireworks on TV or from their porch or yard.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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