The Holidays of Mexico

 

Mexican holidays are spread throughout the year. Whethery they are linked to history or religion, The Mexicans enjoy themselves in every “fiesta” by making masks, wearing costumes, playing instruments and dancing popular dances. Every holiday of Mexico is unique, and everyone who is visiting will be fascinated by them.

Statutory Holidays

Statutory holidays are official federal holidays on which the vast majority of Mexican society takes time off work and school.

Año Nuevo (New Year’s Day)

© Eneas de Troya - Ano Nuevo in Mexico City

Just like other countries that use the Julian calendar, Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1st. It is common to start the year off with festive meals, spending time with family, and relaxing after the festivities of the night before. New Year’s Day is also a time when Mexicans start acting on their New Year’s resolutions.

Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day)

Original Cover of the Mexican Constitution from 1917

Constitution Day is a Mexican statutory holiday celebrated on the first Monday of February. This holiday commemorates the day in 1917 when the Mexican constitution was make into official law after the successful Mexican Revolution.

The Constitution is well-loved in Mexico because of the sweeping social and political reforms it enacted. Mexicans on all ages celebrate this holiday by attending picnics, festivals, and concerts decked out in the patriotic colors of the Mexican flag: red, white, and green.

Natalicio de Benito Juárez (Benito Juárez Day)

© CliNKer - Statue of Benito Juarez in Mexico City

Benito Juárez was president of Mexico from 1847-1852 and is one of the most beloved Mexican statesmen. Born March 21, 1806 in San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca, President Juárez went on to lead the Mexican state and is known for his liberal policies, specifically enacting the strict separation of church and the Mexican state. Benito Juárez Day is celebrated every year on the third Monday in March.

Día del Trabajo (Labor Day)

Mexicans, along with the rest of the world (besides the U.S.) celebrate Labor Day on the first of May, or “May Day”. Many significant labor movements have existed in Mexico throughout its history, and these movements were often violently suppressed by government forces. Labor Day is meant to honor and glorify the Mexican laborers who helped build Mexico and who keep it running today.

Día de la Independencia (Independence Day)

© MILINTOC - Independence Day in Mexico

Independence Day is celebrated in Mexico on September 16. This date is widely considered to be the starting point of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, and the events were started by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla.

Hidalgo y Costilla made his now famous “Crito de Dolores” or “Cry of Dolores” in the small village of Dolores. The Crito de Dolores implored the people of Mexico to rise up and revolt against Spanish rule, and the people heard Hidalgo y Costilla’s cry. On October 18, 1825, Mexico declared its independence from Spain.

Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day)

© Ute - Revolution Day

Revolution Day is celebrated on the third Monday in November. This statutory holiday commemorates the day on which Francisco I. Madero began his successful revolution against the corrupt dictator Porfirio Díaz.

Transmisión del Poder Ejecutivo Federal (Federal Government Change)

The Federal Government Change is celebrated every six years on the first of December. This holiday celebrates the peaceful transfer of power that occurs after a national election. In a region not always known for its government stability, Mexicans are very proud of their established and peaceful democracy.

Navidad (Christmas)

© Martha Silva - Christmas Nativity Scene

Mexico is a heavily-Catholic country, so Christmas is a big deal. It is celebrated every year on December 25, and like in America, it entails many religious and secular traditions. While Santa Claus and reindeer have become a part of the Mexican Christmas experience, there are still many uniquely Mexican aspects to the holiday, including piñatas and sweetly-spiced rice milk.

 

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Civic Holidays

Civic holidays are official holidays, but they usually don’t mean workers and students get the day off.

Día del Ejército (Mexican Army Day)

Army Day in Mexico

Mexican Army Day is celebrated every year on February 19. It commemorates the formation of the Mexican National Army in 1913.

Día de la Bandera (Flag Day)

© ProtoplasmaKid - Flag of Mexico being raised

Flag Day is celebrated annually on February 24. Beginning in 1937, this holidays honors and commemorates all the iterations of the Mexican flag, especially the current flag, adopted in 1968. Many Mexicans deck themselves out in red, white, and green to mark this patriotic day.

Heroica Defensa de Veracruz (The Heroic Defense of Veracruz)

Occupation of Veracruz

The Heroic Defense of Veracruz celebrates Mexico’s historic defense of Veracruz against American forces in 1914.

Staff and faculty of the Heroica Escuela Naval Militar, along with some Mexican Navy forces, held off the Americans for seven months. This historic event is now commemorated every year on April 24.

Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May)

© S Pakhrin - Mexican Dancers, Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is often misconstrued as Mexican Independence Day, but that is not accurate. (The Mexican independence is commemorated on Día de la Independencia.) Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the longshot victory of Mexican troops over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. This battle did not have anything to do with the Mexican independence; rather, it was part of a Mexican civil war.

Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo (Miguel Hidalgo Day)

© misionmexoi - Statue of Miguel Hidalgo

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was Mexican hero responsible for the “Crito de Dolores”, and this holiday commemorates his birth. Hidalgo y Costilla was a major player in the initiation of the Mexican War for Indendence, commemorated on the Día de la Independencia statutory holiday.

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Día de la Marina (Maritime Day)

© presidenciamx - Dia de la Marina

Maritime Day celebrated annually on June 1, honors Mexico’s Navy and maritime workers.

Día de los Niños Héroes (Boy Heroes Day)

© Ricardo Stuckert/PR - Dia de los Ninos Heroes

Boy Heroes Day commemorates a grim event in Mexican history. During the Mexican-American War, six young military cadets died defending Chapultepec Castle, a military academy in Mexico City. Their sacrifice is honored every year on September 13.

Consumación de la Independencia (Mexican War of Independence Day)

Mexican War of Independence Day is celebrated annually on September 27. It commemorates the end of the 11-year war of independence kicked off by Hidalgo y Costilla’s “Crito de Dolores” and celebrates Mexico’s freedom from Spain.

Natalicio de José Ma. Morelos y Pavón (José Morelos Day)

© Cbl63 - Statue of Morelos

José Morelos Day commemorates the birth of José María Morelos y Pavón, a Catholic priest and Mexican founding father. It is celebrated every year on September 30.

Descubrimiento de América (Columbus Day)

Columbus Day

Columbus Day, celebrated annually on October 12, commemorates Christopher Colobus’s 1492 discovery of the Americas.

Religious Holidays

Religious holidays of Mexico are celebrated on many days. Some of the most important, and known to people worldwide, are the following:

  • March 8th: Ash Wednesday (“Miércoles de Ceniza”), preceded by 4 days of Carnival.
  • Easter Sunday
  • May 15th: Saint Isidro the farmer (blessing of the animals)
  • Corpus Christi
  • Pentecost
  • June 24th: Saint John the Baptist.
  • August 15th: Assumption of the Virgin Mary
  • October 7th: Our Lady of the Sacred Rosary.
  • November 1st: Day of “Todos los santos” (day of all the saints)
  • November 2nd: Day of the dead.
  • December 24th: Christmas Eve, preceded by 9 days of pre-christmas Mexican festivities.
Christmas Nativity Scene

© Jeff Weese - Christmas Nativity Scene

 

There are many other Mexican celebrations that are not related to religion or historical events, but rather are means of showing their pride in their traditions. One of those holidays of Mexico is the “Guelaguetza” festival, a traditional folk “fiesta”, held on the region of Oaxaca.

 

Recap Facts about Mexican Holidays

  • Statutory holidays are official holidays on which most citizens have the day off from work and school.
  • Civic holidays are also official holidays, but people generally do not get the day off.
  • Cinco de Mayo does not commemorate Mexican independence from Spain, as many believe. Instead, it commemorates a victory of Mexican troops of French forces during the Reform War.
  • Benito Juárez is well-known for, among other accomplishments, instituting a firm separation of church and state in Mexico.