By Jan White
Many people think that Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo are the same.
But they would be wrong.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates a victory when the powerful French militia was defeated during the 1862 Battle of Puebla by an outnumbered Mexican army. Mexican Independence Day was the culmination of over a decade of war against Spain.
Mexico was once known as New Spain and had been ruled under the tyranny of the Spanish empire for over three hundred years. The Mexican population was oppressed, farmland and personal wealth were confiscated, and only Spaniards were allowed to hold political posts.
On Sept. 16, 1810, a Catholic priest had enough. In the town of Dolores, the priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, rang his church’s bell and delivered a speech now known as the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores), demanding the end of Spanish rule. It marked the violent Mexican War of Independence that lasted over a decade. On August 24, 1821, Spain withdrew and officially recognized Mexico as an independent country. Today, Father Costilla is known as the Father of Mexican Independence, and Mexican Independence Day has been celebrated every year on Sept. 16.
The day of independence has developed into a nationwide celebration over the past two hundred-plus years. The occasion is celebrated much like the United State’s Independence Day, with festivals, fireworks, patriotic speeches, flag-waving, parades, live music, dancing, and home-cooked feasts. Red, white and green — the colors of the Mexican flag — are seen everywhere across Mexico and many cities the United States.
This year, Crockett will celebrate Mexican Independence Day on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 6-9 p.m. in the park across from City Hall. The event, organized by Rebecca Huff, will feature traditional Hispanic dances, music, food, and shopping. For more information, contact Ms. Huff at Crockett City Hall (936) 544-5156.