Mexico's Independence Day Celebrations Are In September!

Cinco de Mayo

I grew up with a Mexican step-father, so I've always been savvy to the fact that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's day of independence. In fact, when I was in Saltillo in May the day seemed to pass without mention. It's celebrated more in the United States, and for good reason.

A brief look into Mexican history taught me that on the 5th of May of 1862 there was a crucial battle in the central Mexican state of Puebla against an outnumbering and better equipped French military. Napoleon III had plans for an American Empire, and aimed to use Mexico as a base to rock the U.S. This battle also took place during the first years of the American Civil War. Had the French managed to establish a base in Mexico, it could have fatally affected the outcome of our own civil conflict. Thus, the holiday is mostly celebrated in the U.S. with tequila, margaritas, and other original Mexican delights.

Mexico's Independence in September

All the flare of national pride that takes place in September is like the 4th of July in the U.S., but on steroids. The Mexican Flag and it's red, white, and green motif makes it look even a bit Christmassy, and it's displayed everywhere and on everything. Every major grocery has a kiosk selling flags, banners, noisemakers, sombreros, and other festive items bearing the nation's colors.

What I found most interesting was that it is illegal for people to wear any clothing with the flag that that includes the eagle's crest (found on the center, white background). This is quite different from the starred and striped clothing that is popular among the patriotic American crowd.

The Mexican Flag

The Mexican flag itself has changed quite a bit since the inception of the Mexican republic, though it has always had the same three colors (red, white, green), which represent independence, religion, union, purity, hope, and the blood of heroes. The Last change was made in 1968.

Saltillo in September

In downtown Saltillo, in the central square called La Plaza De Armas, the national colors are in bright display with "Viva Mexico" lettered on the governmental palace in what, to me, looks like Christmas lights.

A special treat in Saltillo, hosted alongside the celebration of independence, are a series of bronze statues by Mexican sculpturer Jorge Marín. The collection of his 13 pieces titled "The Wings of the City" feature angelic figures dancing and balancing on spheres and wearing masks that resemble those of the medieval bubonic plague doctors of Europe. This public treat also has a pair of gold wings that a tourist can pose in front of and look like they too are an angel.

September 15th Celebrations

Mexico's independence is celebrated throughout the month of September, but the most important, must-see festivities begin the evening of the 15th and take place all day on the 16th. If you're in a Mexican city or town on the 15th of September, head downtown around 11 p.m. when the festivities begin. I am looking forward to the fireworks. I hope not to be penalized for not knowing the national anthem.