Getting ready for the Bicentennial Celebrations!

September may be the beginning of the winter holiday season, but it also marks a special Independence Day holiday in Mexico. This year, on September 16, Mexico celebrates 200 years of freedom from Spanish rule and 100 years since the end of the Mexican Revolution. It will be an exciting occasion with many commemorative festivals and events. In honor of this monumental occasion, let's take a brief look back...

History of Mexican Independence

Miguel Hidalgo during the Grito de Dolores.

Before present-day Mexico existed, pre-Columbian Mesoamerica was inhabited by Aztecs and other Indian civilizations until Spanish conquerors claimed it as New Spain in 1521. Spain's oppression and tyranny continued for centuries until, on September 16, 1810, the Catholic priest Father Miguel Hidalgo, from Dolores, spurred the natives to action with his Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores) in a revolt that lasted one year and ultimately evolved into the Mexican War of Independence.

Another Catholic priest, Father Jose Maria Morelos, continued the cause after Hidalgo's execution, and paved the way to independence by establishing the first proclamation of separation from Spanish rule, granting equal rights to all Mexicans in November 1813, with the Solemn Act of the Declaration of Independence of Northern America. Morelos shared the same fate as Hidalgo, who became known as the father of Mexico, and Morelos, as a national hero.

After winning the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the Treaty of Cordoba, formalizing Mexican independence from Spain, was signed in August. In September 1821, the final document, the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire, pronouncing Mexico as an independent nation, was signed in Mexica (once part of the Aztec empire), which is where the country's name originated; "Mēxihco" in the Aztec Nahuatl language later evolved into "México" in Spanish.

Officially named the United Mexican States (Estados Unidos Mexicanos), this beautiful country honors its independence and bicentennial on September 15-16, 2010.

Bicentenario Celebrations in Mexico

Bicentennial Celebration Mexico 2010 Traditional Independence Day festivities are held throughout Mexico each year on September 15-16, but in 2010, there will be extra fanfare for its bicentennial, celebrating 200 years of hard-won independence from Spain. Starting in early September, cities and towns are bedecked with Mexican flags in green (symbolizing independence), white (religion), and red (union) and other decorations in the same color scheme.

Celebrations begin on the eve of Independence Day, September 15, when citizens enthusiastically gather together in zocalos (town squares) across Mexico, drinking cervezas (beer) while awaiting the official commencement of the holiday. Around 11:00 p.m., local politicians ring a symbolic liberty bell and re-enact Hidalgo's "grito," a patriotic speech calling for Mexicans to unite, and the crowd responds: "Viva Mexico" and "Viva la independencia!" Afterwards, fireworks and patriotic music fill the air as Mexicans sing their national anthem.

The Zocalo in Mexico City.

The merriment continues on Independence Day with parades, carnivals, rodeos, bullfights, folkloric dancing, mariachi music, and indulgence in Mexican food and cervezas. Festivals consist of the customary singing, dancing, and comedy skits, including some special events for the bicentenario, such as outdoor entertainment, cultural demonstrations, art exhibitions, film screenings, museum re-openings, and admission to newly restored archaeological sites.

As with most things Mexican, this occasion will be celebrated with gusto. This year's Independence Day holiday and bicentenario offer travelers a unique opportunity to honor national values that not only Mexico, but much of the world, value − liberty and unity − which makes a vacation in Mexico this September extraordinary.

¡Viva la libertad! (Long live freedom!)

Original article: Jim In Cancun.

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