If you choose to live in Mexico, one of the many advantages is that you get to participate in the many festivities that this country values so much, including everything from the colorful Carnivals that several of the colonial cities put on every year to the exciting celebrations for Independence Day.
This last Wednesday and Thursday, all of Mexico actually took days off and celebrated the bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence movement. (No, Independence Day is not “Cinco de Mayo,” which is a small regional holiday, only celebrated in the city of Puebla near Mexico City, and, for some reason, in the United States. September 16th is the national holiday to celebrate independence.)
If you had the chance to go downtown of any city, town or village, you would have seen hundreds or thousands of people gathered in tight crowd (Mexicans don’t think about personal space too much), waving large flags, and shouting “Viva Mexico!” at the time to commemorate the original shout for independence.
The original took place exactly 200 years ago on September 16th, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo, a small town priest in central Mexico, rang the town church bells in the early morning to call the locals to arms against the ruling Spaniards, shifting Mexico’s independence from quiet conspiracies to a full war, which was long and drawn out.
If you don’t like big crowds and very noisy places, there was also the option of watching from the comfort of your Mexico home. The festivities from Mexico City, where President Felipe Calderon presided over the celebration and lead the shout, were televised live across the country. There were splendid fireworks and light displays. The next day, there was a parade featuring guest military marches from 16 different countries, including the United States and Canada.
Of course, in true Mexican fashion, the majority of people took a good long “puente” – the Spanish word for “bridge” which refers to extended long weekends including the days between the holiday and the next weekend in the days off and celebration. In this case it was from Wednesday, September 15 to Sunday, September 19th. Supermarkets and convenience stores remained open, but the Mexican spirit of relaxation and enjoying life is still strong!