Mexico is a country that represents vitality and enthusiasm. It has a culture of mixed influences representing their rich history. The Mexicans are fun loving party going people. They simply love to sing and dance. A large number of festivals celebrated by the Mexicans show just how they love to enjoy life. Most of their festivals are related to religion, but they only need an occasion to celebrate.
Whether it’s Christmas, New Years, Easter, or a special someone’s birthday our guide gives you the information.
In Mexico there are 3 major kinds of holidays:
Statutory holiday: Holidays observed nationwide. Employees are entitled to a day off with regular pay and schools (public and private) are closed.
Civic holiday: These holidays are observed nationwide, but employees are not entitled to a day off with pay.
Festivities: These are traditional holidays to honor religious events, such as Carnival, Holy Week, Easter, etc. or public celebrations, such as Mother’s day, Father’s day, Valentine’s Day, etc.
The holiday Dia de la Independencia or Aniversario de la Independencia (Sep. 16) commemorates Mexico’s independence from Spain. Parades are held and many schools are closed.
Statutory holidays (referred as “feriados” or “días de asueto” in Mexico) are legislated through the federal government and ruled by Federal Law. (Ley Federal del Trabajo) Most workers, public and private, are entitled to take the day off with regular pay. However, some employers may require employees to work on such a holiday, but the employee must be paid his/her regular salary for the statutory holiday and 2 times (known as “double time”) the regular pay for their time worked that day. When a statutory holiday falls on a Sunday, Monday is considered a statutory holiday; if a statutory holiday falls on Saturday, Friday will be considered a statutory holiday.
January 1: New Year’s Day (Año Nuevo) – First day of the year.
February 5: Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución) – Celebrates the Promulgation of the 1857 and 1917 Constitutions (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico). Observance: First Monday of February.
March 21: Benito Juárez’s birthday (Natalicio de Benito Juárez) – Commemorates President Benito Juárez’s birthday on March 21, 1806 (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico). Observance: Third Monday of March
May 1: Labor Day (Día del Trabajo) – Commemorates the Mexican workers’ union movements (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico).
September 16: Independence Day (Día de la Independencia) – Commemorates the start of the Independence War by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810 (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico).
November 20: Revolution Day (Día de la Revolución) – Commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution by Francisco I. Madero in 1910 (See also Patriotic holidays in Mexico). Observance: Third Monday of November.
December 25: Change of Federal Government (Transmisión del Poder Ejecutivo Federal) – Every six years, when a new President is sworn in office.
December 25: Christmas (Navidad) – Christmas celebration; secular and religious holiday.
In addition to these dates, election days designated by federal and local electoral laws are also statutory holidays.
February 19: Army’s Day (Día del Ejército) – Celebrates the Mexican Army on the Loyalty Day (“Día de la Lealtad”), when President Madero was escorted by the Cadets of the Militar College to the National Palace.
February 24: Flag Day (Día de la Bandera) – Celebrates the current Flag of Mexico and honors the previous ones. Flag Day was implemented by President Lázaro Cárdenas in 1937.
March 18: Anniversary of the Oil Expropriation (Aniversario de la Expropiación Petrolera) – Celebrates the Oil Expropriation by President Gral. Lázaro Cárdenas in 1938.
April 21: Heroic Defense of Veracruz (Heroica Defensa de Veracruz) – Commemorates the defense against the United States occupation of Veracruz in 1914.
May 5: Fifth of May (Cinco de Mayo) – Celebrates the victory of the Mexican Army, led by Gral. Ignacio Zaragoza against French forces in the city of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. Also widely celebrated in the United States. Although Mexican citizens feel very proud of the meaning of Cinco de Mayo, it is not a national holiday in Mexico, but it is an official holiday in the State of Puebla where the mentioned battle took place.
May 8: Miguel Hidalgo’s birthday (Natalicio de Miguel Hidalgo) – Commemorates the birth in 1753 of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the initiator of the Mexican Independence War.
June 1: Marine’s Day (Día de la Marina) – Celebrates the Mexican Navy.
September 13: Boy Heroes Day or Heroic Cadets Day (Día de los Niños Héroes) – Celebrates the Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican–American War of 1847.
September 15: Cry of Dolores (Grito de Dolores) – Celebrates the Grito de Dolores, an event that marked the start of the independence war against Spain on the eve of September 16, 1810. It took place at a church chapel in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, led by a Creole Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. See also Fiestas Patrias (Mexico).
September 27: End of Independence War (Consumación de la Independencia) – Celebrates the end of the Mexican Independence War on 1821, 11 years after Father Hidalgo started it.
September 30: Morelos’ birthday (Natalicio de José Ma. Morelos y Pavón) – Commemorates the birth in 1765 of Father José María Morelos y Pavón, one of the founding fathers of the Mexican nation.
October 12: Columbus Day (Descubrimiento de América) – Commemorates the Discovery of the Americas in 1492 by the Italian navigator Christopher Columbus.
January 6: Epiphany (Día de los Santos Reyes) – Celebrates the Biblical New Testament story of the arrival of the three wise men who each brought a gift to the Christ child. Traditionally, children receive toys, and people buy a pastry called rosca de reyes. Anyone who bites into the bread and finds a figurine of the Christ child must host a party for the Day of Candlemas (February 2). It is not a state holiday.
February 14: Valentine’s Day (Día de San Valentín) – Celebrates amorous unions. On this day, traditionally, men give chocolates, flowers, jewelry, dinner and serenade to their special women, as well as to their female friends. It is not a state holiday.
April 30: Children’s Day (Día del Niño) – Honors all the children. It is not a state holiday.
May 10: Mother’s Day (Día de las Madres) – Honors all the mothers throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
May 15: Teacher’s Day (Día del Maestro) – Honors all the teachers throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
May 23: Students’ Day (Día del estudiante) – Honors all the students throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
Third Sunday of June: Father’s Day (Día del Padre) – Honors all the fathers throughout the country. It is not a state holiday.
November 1: All Saints’ Day or Day of the Dead (Día de Todos los Santos) – Honors dead relatives and/or friends (who were less than 18 years of age and unmarried) with candles, food and flower offerings, altars, and pre-Hispanic and Christian rituals. It is not a state holiday.
November 2: All Souls’ Day or Day of the Dead (Día de los Fieles Difuntos) – Honors dead relatives and/or friends (who were more than 18 years of age or married) with candles, food and flower offerings, altars, and pre-Hispanic and Christian rituals. It is not a state holiday.
December 12: Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Día de la Virgen de Guadalude) – Celebrates the day that Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared on Tepeyac hill to the native Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin. It is not a state holiday.
December 16–24: Las Posadas (Las Posadas) – Commemorates the Biblical New Testament story of Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter in Bethlehem. Consists of candlelight processions as well as stops at various nativity scenes.
December 24: Christmas Eve (Nochebuena) – Celebrates the eve of the nativity of Jesus, as both a secular and religious winter holiday. The traditional treats for this holiday are buñuelos, tamales and atole or champurrado. Sometimes they eat gelatina de colores (different flavors of Jell-O and a milk based Jell-O mixed together to make a colorful treat) Las Posadas are celebrated nine days before Nochebuena, usually accompanied by a piñata party for children and dance music for adults.
December 28: Day of the Innocents (Dia de los Santos Innocentes) – On this day, people pull practical jokes on each other. It is equivalent to the U.S. version of April Fools’ Day (April 1). People must not believe anything that other people say nor let them borrow any amount of money. If any person has fallen victim of the joke, the person pulling the joke will say ¡Inocente palomita…!, literally meaning ‘Innocent little dove’ (equivalent to saying April Fools!).
December 31: New Year’s Eve (Año Nuevo Vìspera) – Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year’s, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. Another tradition is making a list of all the bad or unhappy events from the current year; before midnight, this list is thrown into a fire, symbolizing the removal of negative energy from the new year. At the same time, thanks is expressed for all the good things had during the year that is coming to its end so that they will continue to be had in the new year.
Mexicans celebrate by having a late-night dinner with their families, the traditional meal being turkey and mole, a tradition which has now spanned worldwide. Those who want to party generally go out afterwards, to local parties or night clubs. If you’re in Mexico, you can still enjoy festivities in the street. In Cuernavaca there is a huge street festival on New Year’s Eve; celebrations center around the Zocalo, the city’s main square. You can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: “Feliz año nuevo!” People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne, the Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788.