Mexican Independence Day

16 de Septiembre: El Grito de Independencia

by Jose Pablo Olvera

2011 was the year of the Bicentennial Celebrations in Mexico. This wonderful country commemorated 200 years of Independence from Spanish rule and 100 years of its Revolution that began in 1910 and toppled dictator Porfirio Diaz.

El Grito every 16th of September is the Mexican Fiesta par excellence! On this day Mexicans all over the world celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule.

As you know, indigenous peoples were the first to inhabit what is now known as Mexico. They created great civilizations such as the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, Maya, Toltec, and of course the most powerful of all, the Aztec Empire.

After Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, the Spaniards carried out expeditions to find gold and riches from these faraway lands. In 1521, about 500 Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico, headed by an ambitious man: Hernán Cortés. At this time, the Aztecs had built a great empire that ruled over all Mesoamérica. So the Spaniards decided to direct their attacks towards them.

The indigenous nations that were under the Aztec rule were tired of the physical and economic hardships imposed upon them by this empire. This circumstance made them think that by helping the Conquerors defeat the Aztecs, they would be better off. So they decided to aid the Spaniards.

This is how the Conquest of what is now Mexico began.

On the 13th of August 1521, Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor was captured. The indigenous allies of the Spaniards raided Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire.

They didn’t know it at the time, but they had been liberated from one oppressor and fallen in the hands of a much more powerful authoritarian.

This was the beginning of three centuries of Spanish rule. The new colony was named Nueva España, New Spain.

Taxco

The Baroque City of Silver

by Angie Galicia

Nestled in the rough terrain of Guerrero State, this lovely city has the characteristic, romantic feel that defines Mexican colonial cities.

Its picturesque, labyrinthine streets are the ideal stage for a representation of the Passion Play during Holy Week, an event that attracts a large number of tourists every year.

On Palm Sunday, the population takes part by carrying palms and following “Jesus”, who enters the city triumphantly on a donkey.

The most attractive, singular celebration, however, is the one that takes place on Good Friday: a long, solemn procession is led by the faithful, who carry the lovely images of Christ and of some of the saints on their shoulders. Other men, their heads covered, carry thick trunks with needles on their shoulders as a symbol of penitence.

This is how Taxco shows its deeply religious nature, tightly framed by the narrow streets of the town. But it is not so much the beauty, clearly influenced by the baroque, nor the many traditions of the state of Guerrero that catch one’s interest, as it is the abundance of silver and the imaginative way the artisans work this metal to produce beautiful jewelry, tea sets, sculptures and all kinds of ornaments.

Taxco, or “Tlacho”, which means, “place where the ball game is played”, was already known to the natives of the region before the Spaniards arrived. They extracted silver from the entrails of these lands to pay their tax to the Aztec emperor.

Today, despite its decline as a mining area, Taxco is still one of the principle silver-extraction zones, and the place par excellence in the production of silver wares. Its narrow streets are lined with silver stores where tourists marvel at the ability of the artisans to produce such wonderful works of art, and at such affordable prices.

Taxco’s development as a mining town began with the arrival of José de la Borda in the colonial period. De la Borda invested much of his mining wealth in the construction of the Church of Santa Prisca, the patron saint of the city. Its facade and interiors are worked in the churrigueresque style, and one can appreciate here, the imaginative and delicate work of the town’s artisans.

Saint Prisca is honored on January 17, when children and adults alike gather outside the church with their pets, who will be given a blessing. At dawn the next day, the faithful sing “Las Mañanitas” to their patron saint and dance in the courtyard of the church.

The city of Taxco has almost remained untouched by the “evils” of modernity. The narrow, steep cobblestone streets do not allow for the free passage of cars, and the area does not lend itself well to the construction of tall buildings or hotel complexes. Because of this, its beautiful and romantic colonial, essence has remained practically intact, for the enjoyment of all who visit it.

THINGS TO DO: Mexico City Cuernavaca & Taxco City Tour

Cinco de Mayo Cultural Articles

Cinco de Mayo

Mexicans are truly festive; any excuse gives way for a celebration! But the most important and exciting are the 16th of September, Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo, the Fifth of May.

General Ignacio Zaragoza Cinco de Mayo Hero

When “Cinco de Mayo” is mentioned in Mexico, one of the most symbolic battles in the Mexican collective unconscious immediately comes to mind: the Battle of Puebla. General Ignacio Zaragoza, with only a small army, took on the powerful French forces of Napoleon III during the Second French Intervention.

Interview with..Fidel Rodríguez: The Battle of Puebla in Peñon de los Baños

That day, faced with an invasion by the French, a small army commanded by Ignacio Zaragoza saw its troops augmented with the participation of the Zacapoaxtlas,… – How long have you been in charge of organizing this popular event?

Discover: Puebla

On May fifth, Cinco de Mayo, 1862, Puebla was the scene of one of the historical events that fill Mexicans with pride: the victory of our army over the French army, which was the biggest in the world at the time.

My name is Pablo, and I’m 9 years old. My school is called Comunidad Educativa León Felipe. It’s a Montessori school in the north of Mexico City.

El Tequila

Agave is a plant species that instantly brings to mind images of Mexico and represents the essence of being Mexican. A sacred beverage was obtained from the agave which could only be enjoyed on special occasions by the tlatoanis or rulers, priests or the elders.

¡Adivina Adivinador! Proverbs, Riddles and Popular Sayings

Cinco de Mayo Word Search

Desde la Cocina Mexican Recipes

Mole Poblano y Arroz Rojo

Art and Handicrafts La Talavera from Puebla

The production of tiles and ceramic ware in Puebla, started almost immediately the city was established in 1531.

Day of the Dead Popular Sayings

Hay más tiempo que vida

There is more time than life.

Se me subió el muerto.
The deceased climbed on me! Which means: “It really scared me!”

Ya ni en la paz de los sepulcros creo.
I don’t even believe in the peace of the tombs anymore. “I don’t trust anyone”

Al vivo todo le falta y al muerto todo le sobra.
The ones alive need everything, the dead need nothing.

Hierba mala nunca muere.
Bad weed never dies.

Al diablo la muerte, mientras la vida nos dure.
To hell with death while we’re still alive.

Mujeres juntas, sólo difuntas.
Women together only in heaven.

Te asustas del muerto y te cobijas con la mortaja.
You’re afraid of the defunct but use his shroud to cover yourself!
It is used when someone is criticizing another person, and at the same time is
taking advantage of him.

A mí la muerte me pela los dientes.
Death peels my teeth! Which means “Death can’t do anything to me!”

Quien con la esperanza vive, alegre muere.
He who lives with hope dies happy.

El muerto y el arrimado a los tres días apestan.
The dead and the guests stink after 3 days.

Mexican Muralism


    

The Mexican Revolution began in 1910 and ended in 1920.

 

The triumph of the Mexican Revolution intensified the desire for a deeper transformation of Mexico and thus the people demanded a radical change driving a social, political, and economic revolution.

 

From this desire, the Muralism movement arose. It was an art movement that begun in the early 20th Century and was conceived by a group of artists and Mexican thinkers.

Maya Mural Bonampak

 

Mexico has had a long tradition of painting murals beginning in pre-Columbian times, with the Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacan civilizations. During the colonial period, murals were mostly painted to evangelize and reinforce Christian doctrine.

 

Many changes were implemented when President Álvaro Obregón came to power. Three million hectares of agricultural land, owned by wealthy Mexicans, were distributed to poor farmers; educational programs were improved and funds were set to promote the arts. The Muralists who proudly represented Mexico’s indigenous past on their paintings used most of these funds.

 

In 1932 President Obregon appointed writer José Vasconcelos as Secretary of Public Education.

 

Vasconcelos realized that 90% of the population was illiterate, and was determined on finding a way to culturally enrich the people. For this purpose, he enlisted famous Mexican painter and professor Gerardo Murillo known as Dr. Atl,

 

Dr. Atl is considered the architect of the Muralism movement.

In 1906 Dr. Atl issued a manifesto calling for the creation of a monumental public art movement and founded the Artistic Center of Mexico City to express their ideas through murals.

 

Artists and intellectuals wanted to create a new national identity and sought to consolidate the social justice ideals set forth in the revolution.

 

Through their art, they reinforced nationalism and thus intended to change the prejudice that existed against the Mexican indigenous groups.  They promoted the accurate idea of a Mexican identity as a mestizo nation, with the indigenous people promoted as well as the Spanish ancestry.

 

Raul Anguiano Mural

 

Many murals were produced in most of the country from the 1920s to 1970, generally with themes related to social justice and nationalism focused mainly on the Mexican Revolution, the mestizo identity and the pre-Columbian cultural history.

 

Diego Rivera Mural

The three most representative artist of the Muralism movement, Los Tres Grandes, were Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

 

Mexican Muralism is alive and well.

Mural by Edgar Flores Saner Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares

Many young artists are crossing over from spectacular street art to contemporary murals. Some of these great street artists are Edgar Flores Saner, Farid Rueda, Favio Martinez Curiot.