Las Fiestas Patrias (The National Holidays)

Photographer unknown

Photographer unknown

On Monday, 19 November, the school and Casa Hogar were particularly quiet. An all-too-inappropriate silence, I thought. I heard birds and roosters in the distance when I should have been hearing children’s voices. But there was good reason for the silence, the absence of the children: today is the celebration of el Día de la Revolución. The Revolution actually began 20 November, but many holidays in Mexico, like in the U.S.A. are commemorated on a Monday near the actual date.

The Mexican Revolution started in 1910 as an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against dictator Porfirio Díaz, who had been in power for 34 years under military rule.  The Revolution lasted about a decade, evolving from a revolt to a multi-sided civil war; it was replete with multiple shifting factions and alliances. The result of the Revolution was the end of dictatorship and the formation of a constitutional republic. The beginnings of this revolution were 100 years after the war of independence from Spain (1810).

The commemoration of the Revolution is one of five Fiestas Patrias, the others are:

  • Aniversario de la Constitución (5 February). Commemorates the Constitution of 1917 which resulted from the Revolution.
  • Natalicio de Benito Juárez (21 March 1806). Commemorates the birth date of President Benito Juárez who is regarded as an exemplary politician because of policies that, among other things, defined the traditionally strict separation of the church and state in Mexico.
  • Día del Trabajo (1 May, Labor Day)
  • Grito de Dolores and Aniversario de la Independencia. On 16 September 1810, in the village of Dolores (near San Miguel de Allende) Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called for his neighbors to take up arms against Spanish rule in Mexico. At the time, José Bonaparte was King of Spain, having been installed by his brother Napoleón, who had invaded Spain in 1808.

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