Although perhaps not as well-known as Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day is an important event on the Mexican calendar. Celebrated every Sept. 16, this Mexican holiday commemorates the brave struggle of patriotic Mexicans in their fight against Spanish rule.
The key figure behind the revolt that led to Mexico's independence from Spain was Father Miguel Hidalgo, a priest from a small parish in Dolores, Guanajuato. Dissatisfied with conditions under Spanish rule, Hidalgo formed a group with other liberal thinkers from around the country and planned a revolt in October 1810. However, word soon got out about their plans, forcing the group to move their revolt ahead of schedule to Sept. 16.
Hidalgo and his supporters marched on Mexico City, encountering Spanish soldiers along the way. Taken aback by the group's numbers, the Spanish military forces gradually conceded ground to the rebels, although both sides suffered many casualties. Hidalgo was later found and executed, but his spirit lived on as his supporters continued to fight for 11 more years before Mexico secured its independence.
The festivities on Mexican Independence Day traditionally begin Sept. 15. Although Mexico City is the site of the largest celebrations, other towns, cities and villages across Mexico unite in remembrance of the struggles against the Spanish. Flags fly, and Mexicans participate in parades, bull fights and other cultural traditions. At 11 p.m., crowds observe a moment of silence to remember Hidalgo's pride and sacrifice, and the president rings the same bell Hidalgo rang to call his followers to fight before reciting the Grito de Delores, the rallying cry that came to define Mexicans' struggle for independence.
Although Mexican Independence Day is cause for celebration among the Mexican people, it is important to remember that life is hard for many Mexican families. With a population of more than 112 million, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line, not every Mexican family has reason to celebrate. ChildFund has worked in Mexico since 1955 and continues to bring hope to Mexican children and their families suffering from the effects of poverty.
As Mexican Independence Day approaches, please consider sponsoring a child in Mexico. For just $28 per month, you can help us ensure that a child has access to the food, health care and educational opportunities he or she so desperately needs. Alternatively, our monthly giving programs allow you to make a difference in the lives of children in countries where the need is greatest.