By Natalia Albin
It took 11 years of war for Mexico to gain its Independence. It all started on September 16th (no, it wasn’t 5 de Mayo), when a not-so-regular priest yelled the famous Grito de Dolores - Cry of Dolores - in Dolores, Hidalgo. Nobody really knows what he said, just a lot of “Viva México!” and potentially something terrible about the Spanish government.
Don’t worry, this blog post is not meant to be a history lesson. What we actually want to do is tell you about how Mexicans celebrate.
Independence Day is one of those days we plan for months. It’s June and the question already looms, “What’s the plan for September 15th?” Side note: because the Cry of Dolores was very early on the 16th, we celebrate from the 15th to the 16th. So what do we do?
1. Yes, we drink
The normal thing to do on the night of September 15 is to go out to a party and yes, tequila, mezcal and beers are a huge part of it. From shots and Palomas - a cocktail made with tequila and lemonade - to the classic Banderitas - a shot of lime, followed by a shot of tequila and a grand finale of Clamato (tomato juice).
2. Watch the president recreate the Cry of Dolores
Every year, on the night of the 15th, at whatever party we find ourselves at, the president is shown on TV recreating the Cry of Dolores from the National Palace at Mexico City’s Zócalo. He comes out with wife and children waving a Mexican flag from the building’s main balcony, where he rings the Palace’s bell and gives a personalised version of the Cry of Dolores.
The Cry always ends with a threefold shout of “Viva México!” to which everyone responds with another “Viva!” and the bell is rung again before everyone sings the National Anthem, followed by a firework display.
3. Have a lot, and I mean a lot, of Mexican food
As is well known, Mexican food is something we’re very proud of, and one of the best ways to celebrate the country is by eating a lot of it. Dishes like Pozole (a soup made mainly from corn, chili and pork), Mole* (a sauce originally from Oaxaca and Puebla) and Tamales* (corn dough steamed in banana leaves) are served in heaps everywhere in the country.
4. The whole country is filled with decorative flags
During September, and especially as the 15th gets nearer, it’s hard to walk down the street without seeing 3 things: kiosks selling Mexican flags in all sizes, houses with Mexican flags and cars decorated with the flag.
The symbol fills the cities and supermarkets. It’s like Christmas made from Mexican memorabilia. Some places even hold little markets to showcase patriotic symbols!
5. Be with family
A big part of the tradition is spending it with your family or the family of someone close to you. Be it at a huge party or in a house, a big part of it feeling like Independence Day is the smell of home-made cooking and that warm feeling of family around you.
*If you get curious, you can always try these dishes in Mestizo London!