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Fiestas Patrias and Other Mexican Holidays

Baile folklorico in Mexico
Credit: Tipograffias | Shutterstock
Maria O'Connor blogs for Expats In Mexico Blogger
Maria O’Connor

On September 16th, we expats in Mexico celebrated Mexico’s Independence from Spain. The Fiestas Patrias, or Homeland Celebrations, refer to a number of festivities that take place in September, el Mes de la Patria.

Although Independence Day is the big one, September 13th commemorates the Niños Heroes or Boy Soldiers that defended Mexico City at the Battle of Chapultepec in 1847, and September 14th is El Dia del Charro, the day when the churros and their dancing horses parade through the cities and towns in Mexico.

Many people think that Mexico has a lot of holidays and although we celebrate many things, Mexico actually has fewer “legal” holidays than we do in the U.S. A number of years ago Mexico modified some of the legal holidays so that they would fall on a Monday, thus creating a “Puente” or long weekend. Other holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day are always on the same date.

This is a list of the obligatory holidays in Mexico. If you have employees that work on these days, they are entitled to triple-time pay on that day.

  • January 1st (New Year’s Day)
  • The first Monday in February (Constitution Day replaces the February 5th holiday)
  • The third Monday in March (Benito Juarez’ Birthday replaces the March 21st holiday)
  • May 1st (Labor Day)
  • September 16th (Independence Day)
  • The third Monday in November (Revolution Day replaces the November 20th holiday)
  • December 1st every six years (this is when the newly elected President takes office)
  • December 25th (Christmas Day)

These are the days that I consider to be “sort-of holidays,” they are not obligatory but are often given as days off or reasons to close banks, government offices and schools:

  • January 6th (Three Kings Day)
  • Holy Thursday and Good Friday (many people take the entire week before and after Easter as vacation weeks)
  • May 10th (Mother’s Day)
  • October 12th (Columbus Day)
  • December 12th (Virgin Guadalupe Day)
  • The two weeks at the end of December and beginning of January.

May 5th is not a holiday but it is the day when Mexico commemorates a victory against the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. My theory on why Cinco de Mayo is so popular and misunderstood in the U.S. is that it is much easier for Americans to pronounce than Dieciséis de Septiembre!

Viva México!