mexican independence day

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

Mexican Independence Day – what is it all about? Let’s have a look at where it all began, as well as the special food we eat this time of year.

On 16th September, 1810, in Dolores, Mexico, Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang the church bell and passionately urged the townspeople to fight for Mexico’s independence from Spain. This became known as the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores). The word began to spread and several days later the War of Independence began. Hidalgo was tragically captured and killed in 1811 and the war did not end until 27th September, 1821, when Mexico finally gained its independence. Today, in towns and cities across Mexico, huge crowds gather in their local plaza on the eve of Independence Day to celebrate this momentous occasion. At 11pm in the Zocalo, the main square of Mexico City, the President rings the bell from the National Palace and calls out to the waiting crowd. He recreates the Grito de Dolores, crying 'Viva México!' ('Long live Mexico!') and the crowd chants back to him. There is live music, fireworks, street food and a huge buzz of energy. It is a very patriotic and moving moment for everyone present and Mexico City is the largest and most emblematic celebration in the whole country – you can see the scale of it right here.

And now, for the food! Two dishes that are typically eaten on Independence Day are pozole and chiles en nogada. Let’s find out more about them...


Pozole means ‘foamy’ and is a hearty soup made from corn kernels, meat (usually pork or chicken) and chillies. This dish has its root in pre-Hispanic times, before the Spanish conquest, when it was a simple combination of corn, water and meat. It was a ceremonial meal with huge religious significance, because the Aztecs believed that humans were descendants of maize, and so it was a sacred food. Furthermore, being fierce warriors, they would often take captives as a result of their own conquests. They sacrificed the captives as offerings to the gods and added the meat to the corn and water – and so pozole was born. When the Spanish invaded, they viewed this practice as barbaric and replaced the human meat with pig, which is what we use today. Some recipes even include the head and trotters!

Nowadays, we know pozole as a delicious, warming soup, which also serves as an excellent hangover cure! It is often best eaten the day after cooking, as the flavours have had time to marinate. There are many variations on how to prepare it and each region draws from its own special ingredients and influences. You can even try green, red and white pozoles which reflect the colours of the Mexican flag and makes it a perfect dish to be eaten on Independence day.

Is there a special way to eat it? You actually eat it with salad on top! It is garnished with iceberg lettuce, radishes, onion, avocado, cream and any number of additions depending on personal preference. Mexicans will often serve it with a tostada (crunchy baked tortilla) which they can use to scoop all the toppings onto and enjoy that way.