How to Celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Today, September 16, is Mexican Independence Day—and this year the country will also be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the end of Spanish rule in 1821.

In 1810, just before dawn on September 16, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rallied Mexicans in a call for a revolution, delivering the "Grito de Dolores" battle cry.

According to the U.S. Library of Congress, Hidalgo said: "My children, a new dispensation comes to us today...Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen 300 years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once."

Mexican Independence Day ("Día de Independencia") is typically celebrated with fireworks, fiestas and parades.

A Brief History of Mexican Independence

Spain's conquest of the region began in the late 15th century. By the 19th century—and particularly after Napoleon occupied Spain in 1808—calls for an overthrow of European colonial rule began to gather force.

Hidalgo, a Catholic priest from a village called Dolores, formed a group and planned a revolt in October 1810. Word got out about the plan, however, and the authorities ordered the priest to be arrested, forcing the group to move quickly.

A flag waved on Mexican Independence Day.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves a Mexican flag on the main balcony of the National Palace during the "El Grito" ceremony marking the start of Mexican Independence Day celebrations in Mexico City on September 15, 2021. Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

In the early morning of September 16, the priest rang the bell of his church to gather fellow Mexicans to the building and delivered the call to arms that became known as the "Grito de Dolores."

The speech ignited Mexico's War of Independence, which led to the end of Spanish rule in 1821.

The British Mexican Society explains: "The war had its roots in Napoleon's French invasion of Spain in 1808; it extended from the Grito de Dolores by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla on September 16, 1810, to the entrance of the Army of the Three Guarantees led by Agustín de Iturbide to Mexico City on September 27, 1821.

"The three guarantees which the army was meant to defend were: religion, independence and unity. Mexico was to be a Catholic country, independent from Spain, and united against its enemies."

A man celebrating Mexican Independence Day.
A man wears a face mask featuring the Mexican flag during Independence Day celebrations in 2020 in Mexico City. Hector Vivas/Getty Images

How to Say 'Happy Mexican Independence Day' in Spanish

In the speech delivered by Hidalgo on September 16, he shouted, "Viva Mexico!" and "Viva la independencia!" To wish people a "Happy Mexican Independence Day," simply repeat his words: "Viva Mexico!" and "Viva la independencia!"

Mexican Independence Day Celebrations

The British Mexican Society explains that every year on the eve of Mexican Independence Day, at around 11 p.m. local time, the country's president stands on the balcony of the National Palace and rings a bell, as Hidalgo did in 1810.

The president recites "El Grito Mexicano," a speech based on Hidalgo's proclamation that also lists the names of heroes in the Mexican War of Independence. The ceremony concludes with "Viva México!" shouted three times.

Today's Google Doodle for the search engine's Mexico region celebrates Mexican Independence Day.

A building illuminated for Mexican Independence Day.
A view of a government building in Mexico City illuminated for Independence Day celebrations on September 15, 2021. PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images