Celebrate Independence Like a Real Mexican
Let's be frank here: Aside from a killer tan, the single other thing that makes you giddier about returning from a vacation is being able to surprise your coworkers with some fresh knowledge about the destination you just visited, the kind that makes you come across as a truly learned world traveler.
Well, here's a great chance to be that person. September is informally known as “Independence Month” throughout Mexico, so we're bringing you a quick primer to help you understand a little more about the ongoing festivities and the best ways to enjoy them like the locals do. Feel free to precede each tidbit with a smug: "You know, a little known fact about Mexican Día de la Independencia is…"
The Real History
It has NOTHING to do with Cinco de Mayo
This might be the most common mistake about general knowledge of Mexican holidays! In reality, May 5th in Mexico is hardly regarded among the top national celebrations. It commemorates a military victory over invading French forces that took place back in 1862, which places it almost 52 years after the actual start of the War of Independence: September 16, 1810. And by the way, they were fighting under the Spanish rule back then, keep that in mind.
It’s about much more than just “drinking it up”
Sorry, amigo, no Cinco de Mayo drunken shenanigans for you on Mexican Independence Day. But feel free to drop by the nearest Mexican city hall or town square and you’ll be treated to the ceremony known as “El Grito”:
The highest ranked government officials (from the President to local mayors) lead a round of chants that echo the very same words that Miguel Hidalgo –precursor of the independence movement – uttered to raise the people against their Spanish oppressors. Church bells will ring, flags will wave, and fireworks will light up the sky.
Don’t worry, you’ll still get to down a few beers and sip some tequila. It’s a party, after all. Just don't come in expecting a Mexican version of St. Patrick's Day, another foreign holiday that has been turned into an excuse for day drinking. That being said…
Celebrating in Style
Eat, drink, and be merry
Any “El Grito” celebration worth its salt comes with a vast offering of street stalls where you can get your fill of traditional Mexican staples: tacos, flautas, tostadas, corn-based snacks (like elotes or esquites), tamales, cotton candy, deep-fried treats… And that’s just the standard fare, there are countless regional specialties that you should absolutely enjoy.
If hitting the streets and braving the crowds sounds too adventurous for you, call the Front Desk at your resort and ask if they have a “Noche Mexicana” on schedule. At Moon Palace Cancun the celebrations will give you a bit of everything.
There will be a Mexican market setup so you can try the aforementioned specialties and cut the rug to regional dances. But that’s just the start, as the Sunrise section of the resort will also host an assortment of shows including horses, mariachi, and even lucha libre!
Everything turns red, white, and green
The colors in Mexico’s flag permeate everything during Independence Month. The most egregious use of this chromatic palette can be found on the ultimate seasonal dish for this time of year: the “chiles en nogada.” It’s a poblano chile stuffed with shredded meat, dried fruit, and spices. The green skin of the chile is smothered with a white walnut-based sauce and red pomegranate seeds for patriotic effect.
You’ll find lots more examples of this colorful approach to food and drink, from traditional fruit-based drinks and cocktails to varied sweets and assorted candies.
You’ll feel quite welcome
Time to leave your hangups about cultural appropriation aside: Truth is Mexicans appreciate foreigners who want to partake in the country’s traditions and will feel flattered about your interest in their culture and folklore. So jump into the action with the right attitude, feel free to ask questions, and enjoy yourself: You’ll have the time of your life and will likely make plenty of friends as you join the chorus of the Mariachi’s song and shout “Viva Mexico!” at the top of your lungs. Just don't bring up Cinco de Mayo.