Fiestas Patrias: History, Traditions, and Celebrations

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Tony Maples Photography


September is Hispanic Heritage Month and with that comes parties, celebrations, and of course Fiestas Patrias events. September 16th commemorates Mexican Independence from Spain. Along with Mexico, a few other Latin American Countries also celebrate their Independence this month as well such as the Central America countries of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

The actual celebration of Mexico’s independence is celebrated on September 16th, but the party begins the night of September 15th at 11 p.m. According to an article by ibtimes.com, “the real Mexican Independence Day, or El Grito, is Friday, during which Mexicans from all over will come together to celebrate the day Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla – known as the father of Mexican independence – launched the revolution that led to Spain’s departure from Mexico.”


La Familia Cortez Restaurants

Photo: Facebook/La Familia Cortez Restaurants

Lovingly known to most as the “Grito de Dolores” or Cry of Dolores, the start of the celebration dates back to 1810.

Hidalgo gave the famous “Grito de Dolores” encouraging Mexicans to band together to end 300 years of Spain’s rule in Mexico. “Although they came close to defeating the Spaniards during a battle at Calderón in January 1811, Spain prevailed. It wasn’t until 1820 after Royalists took over in Spain when the new government vowed to vacate Mexico, freeing the county,” shared ibtimes.com.

“In 1821, Spanish Viceroy Juan de O’Donojú signed the Treaty of Córdoba, granting Mexico its independence from Spain.” This marked the country’s Independence Day on September 16th.


Fiestas Patrias-Houston 2

Photo: Facebook/Houston Fiestas Patrias Parade

As history would have it, although the actual Independence Day is recognized on September 16th, Mexico begins the celebrations the evening before “when Mexico’s president ring’s the National Palace bell and re-enacts Hidalgo’s famous Grito de Dolores, which is ended with three shouts of ‘Viva Mexico!’ In honor of the day, Mexico City streets are decorated with flags, flowers, and lights matching the country’s flag colors,” shares ibtimes.com.

Cities across the nation participate in the festivities including the “Grito de Dolores.” Parades are a tradition in many towns around Texas and beyond highlighting the importance of this day. The celebrations are commemorated with music, dancing, and festivals with vendors selling all sorts of items, and delicious traditional food offerings.

Fiestas Patrias

Fiestas Patrias-Houston

Photo: Facebook/Houston Fiestas Patrias Parade

Although cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles observe “El Grito” and Mexico’s Independence Day with parades and festivals, some of the best celebrations can be found right here in our beautiful Texas towns like Houston.

Houston, TX holds an annual Fiestas Patrias Parade downtown where thousands gather to see bands, Ballet Folklorico dancing groups parading down the streets with their traditional costumes, Vaqueros (cowboys) on their beautiful horses, Mariachis, and even a Fiestas Patrias Queen and her court. Unfortunately, this year due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey the parade was canceled but is being celebrated through the 2017 Texas Taco Music Fest this Saturday, September 16th at Discovery Green.

Among the other things to look forward to in celebrating Fiestas Patrias is the food. Although anytime is taco time, tacos are big menu items to celebrate with along with Menudo and my favorite tamales. The www.mexgrocer.com has some great authentic Mexican recipes to try at home.

Upcoming celebrations in San Antonio celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day can be found on sanantoniotourist.net. For other Fiestas Patrias celebrations around Texas visit www.everfest.com.