Mexico was a colony of Spain for over 300 years. The native population was oppressed, farmland and personal wealth were confiscated and only Spaniards were allowed to hold political posts. On September 16, 1810, a Catholic priest in the town of Dolores named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang his church’s bell and delivered a speech now known as the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores), demanding the end of Spanish rule. This Mexican War of Independence was brutal and lasted well over a decade. Finally, on August 24, 1821, Spain withdrew and officially recognized Mexico as an independent country.
Like Independence Day in the USA, Mexican Independence Day is a nationwide celebration with fireworks, patriotic speeches, flag-waving, parades, live music, and home-cooked feasts. Red, white and green — the colors of the Mexican flag — are seen everywhere across Mexico and even cities in the USA with big Mexican populations. One of the most popular events connected to Mexican Independence Day is when the President of Mexico rings the 200-year-old bell Father Costilla used in 1810 and recites the Grito de Dolores speech.
Many people outside of Mexico think that Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo are the same things. Cinco de Mayo celebrates another victory when the outnumbered Mexican army defeated the powerful French militia in 1862 during the Battle of Puebla.