This will be a short post because I like to celebrate Mexican Independence Day from morning to night, so I’ve got better things to do than to be writing all morning. But first, a brief history.
Also, before anyone jumps all over me, the flag in the photo was the first Mexican flag after the revolution.
Dieciséis de Septiembre, Not Cinco de Mayo
Contrary to popular belief among many gringos like me, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. Cinco de Mayo celebrates a Mexican victory over invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. By then Mexico was its own country and the French were on the decline anyhow, so while the victory was undoubtedly a monumental occurrence in the history of Mexico, it is not affiliated with Mexico’s independence.
So when is Mexican Independence Day? It’s today! Officially it’s called 16 de Septiembre (or Dieciséis de Septiembre if you want to see it all spelled out), which, if you’ve been diligent in your Duolingo sessions, you will recognize as the Spanish way of saying “September 16.” September 16, 1810 was the date that Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, parish priest in Dolores, Mexico, issued what is called the Cry of Dolores. Without getting into a full blown lesson in early-19th century international relations, the Cry of Dolores was just the last in a long series of events that ultimately resulted in a massive meltdown over the Spanish Empire. Napoleon had invaded Spain and installed his brother as king, and Spain was basically doing everything in its power to maintain its Empire, both with and without the Bonapartes being a part of it.
If you’re interested in that kind of stuff, most biographies of Napoleon cover it pretty well, but there are also books specifically about the Spanish crises of the time. But again, I’ll leave a full explanation of that stuff to people who study it. I’m just a nerd who lives close to a Barnes & Noble.
But back to Mexico. Father Hidalgo issued the Cry of Dolores and on September 16, 1810, and over the next eleven years a series of often disjointed battles between Mexican revolutionaries and Spanish army forces saw between 250,000 and 500,000 people die throughout most of the geographic region of contemporary Mexico.
Ultimately the Mexican revolutionaries just simply refused to stop fighting. For eleven long years fighting continued, sometimes in large battles and sometimes in one-off conflicts between small bands of revolutionaries and equally small bands of Spanish royalists. On August 24, 1821, the Treaty of Córdoba was signed by the combatants and the war officially ended just over a month later on September 27, 1821.
From there a constitutional monarchy was formed, and it would in fact take a few tries before Mexico found a governmental system that worked for them. However, in 1917 the current constitution was enacted and Mexico has continued to grow ever since.
So happy Mexican Independence Day! It’s a shame it is so overshadowed by Cinco de Mayo because I think we need more celebration days like this as we near the cooler months. Felicidades!