Some people may think that a Mexican holiday is just an excuse to throw on a sombrero, grab some tequila, buy a piñata and party – but this could not be further from the truth. Cinco de Mayo, Día de Los Muertos and Grito de Dolores all come to mind when we think of days that Mexicans, both in Mexico and United States, put time aside to celebrate and rejoice these historical anniversaries with their paisanos – and as September 16th approaches, mention of holidays like Fiestas Patrias and the Aniversario de la Independencia are becoming more and more in mainstream media.
As a bicultural Latino, I grew up celebrating both American and Mexican holidays. The purpose and meaning behind all American holidays were usually emphasized to us in grade school, but the Mexican holidays that I celebrated were usually left for our parents to explain. It wasn’t until I graduated high school and took a class in Mexican American Studies that I was enlightened to the meaning behind these recognized Mexican holidays.
Since Fiestas Patrias has the word “Fiesta” in it, it doesn’t surprise me that people come to the conclusion that it’s just a glorified Mexican Party. In all actuality, Independence Day celebrates one of the most important days in the history of Mexico – their declaration of independence from Spanish rule. The night of September 15, Grito de Dolores, and September 16, 1810, Aniversario de la Independencia, commemorate Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s Grito de Dolores in the town of Dolores, near Guanajuato where Hidalgo called for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico – Fifteen years later, Mexico officially declared September 16th it’s national Independence Day.
As Latino generations come and go, valuable cultural and historical information leave with them. It is apparent that our education system doesn’t put much emphasis on conserving cultural, historical events and anniversaries – leaving the responsibility up to the people within the cultural groups themselves. I personally believe that this is a great opportunity for the mainstream media industry to step in and provide emphasis on these holidays, educating the American public, and creating opportunities for companies to better connect with a cultural group that is so hard to reach, but until then, it will be up to individuals like me to seek out the information to inform themselves and their peers.