10 keys to explain the Independence of Mexico to children

On September 15th and 16th Mexico throws a party; we commemorate what is considered the formal beginning of our Independence. The children wear typical clothes, on the night of the 15th we prepare a dinner with the most succulent dishes of our gastronomy and in the morning of the 16th, it is customary to see the parade.

That day many schools have a representation of the Grito de Dolores (Dolores call), one of the culminating points of the history of Mexico. It is very important that our children understand what happened that day.

Take advantage of the celebration to explain to your little ones a bit of our history. These are 10 keys to understand the Independence of Mexico. Review them so that you can explain them to your kids.

A long, long time ago…

List of 10 keys to explain the Independence of Mexico to children

1. What Mexico was like before

According to the book Historia Mínima de México, by Daniel Cosío Villegas, Alejandra Moreno Tascano, Lorenzo Meyer, Ignacio Bernal, among others, by 1800, New Spain (or Mexico as it is now called) had become one of the richest countries in the world, but there was a huge contrast: there was a lot of wealth for some (Spaniards and Criollos) and maximum poverty for others (mestizos and natives).

2. The caste system

One of the main reasons that originated the armed movement of 1810 was the caste and class structure. This meant that society was organized like a pyramid and people had to stay in the block (social stratum) into which they were born.

  • At the top were the Spaniards, classified in Peninsulares (born in Spain) and Criollos (children of Spaniards born in America).
  • Under them were the Mestizos (children of Spanish and native) and Castizos (children of mestizo and Spanish).
  • At the bottom were other descendant castes and natives.

3. Unfair society

Let’s go back a few years. In 1740, after two hundred years of being a dependent part of the Spanish empire, New Spain entered, like the rest of the world, an era of change known as the Age of Enlightenment.

The population considered part of the “nobility” owned all the wealth; they were only 0.15% of the population according to the Revillagigedo Census.

The original peoples lived in conditions of slavery, the mestizos began to be the majority of the population and the Criollos considered that the Spanish nobility was parasitic. Can you imagine the conditions?

Catalyzed by the ideas of the French Revolution and by the growing disgust against the Spanish crown and the taxes they imposed, the idea of independence began to take shape.

Do not miss: Names of Nahuatl origin for girls and boys

4. Mexican Independence: A Criollo Movement

The Criolla middle class (illustrated) and the rich Criollos (landlords and miners) were the first to consider that it was unfair that all the wealth was sent to Spain.

In 1808, Napoleon, one of the greatest conquerors of all times, occupied Spain. The Spaniards opposed the invader and the Criollos, who did not considered themselves Spanish, tried to take advantage of the crisis to become independent and start the movement.

5. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the village priest who stood up to fight

Conspiracies took place everywhere, and the Spanish reported the Criollos, accusing them of violating the trust of the empire. However, the conspirators from Querétaro, San Miguel and Dolores, upon being denounced, rose up to fight.

In the early hours of Sunday, September 16th, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a wealthy, influential teacher, brilliant ex-student of the Jesuits and priest of the town of Dolores, set the prisoners free and put the Spanish authorities in jail. He called mass and from the atrium of the church incited the parishioners to join his cause.

6. El Grito de Dolores

The priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, accompanied by Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, called his parishioners to take up arms. He rang one of the bells of the Parish of the Town of Dolores, today Dolores Hidalgo, in Guanajuato.

The exact words that priest Hidalgo spoke are unknown, the most probable and oldest version says that he shouted, “Long live our most holy Mother of Guadalupe! Long live Fernando VII and death to bad government!” (Bishop Manuel Abad y Queipo).

You can read: 5 tips to enjoy Mexican food and national holidays without remorse

7. The Banner of Vírgen de Guadalupe

In Hidalgo’s illustrations and murals, he is portrayed carrying a banner of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the highest Catholic figure in Mexico since the 16th century. According to historians, on the morning of the 16th, when he called the people in “El Grito”, he did not take out the religious image, he did it during the first hours of his march for independence. In any case, it is tradition that in the representations of “El Grito“, the Mexican flag is carried emulating that banner.

8. The Independence of Mexico began with only 15 people

A small group of only 15 people, according to letters from Miguel Hidalgo, started the riot without military training and very few weapons. Four months later, that group of people would become an army of 100,000 men with 95 cannons. It was not a simple protest, but the desperation of the entire town.

9. Was the Independence of Mexico on September 15th or 16th?

There is a lot of discrepancy regarding when “El Grito” actually took place, most historians agree that it was in the early hours of September 16th. President Porfirio Díaz, who was in power between 1876 and 1911, changed the celebration from the 16th to the night of the 15th to celebrate it with his birthday. Since then we celebrate it on the night of September 15th.

But check it, we celebrate September 16th  as an iconic event, but actually, the consummation of independence was on September 27th, 1821, with the triumphal entry of the Army of the Three Guarantees (Trigarante) commanded by Agustín de Iturbide to Mexico City.

10. There were many women involved

Some people believe that few women participated in the Independence, but they are wrong.  Without the participation of women, the movement could not have been able to consolidate. The most renowned ones are Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, Leona Vicario, María Ignacia Rodríguez, Gertrudis Bocanegra, Mariana Rodríguez del Toro, Altagracia Mercado, Carmen Camacho, among others.

There was also a hidden network in which women from different social classes (mostly Criollas and natives) participated, they were called “Las Guadalupes” and they were in charge of getting donations and food.

Interesting and exciting, don’t you think? With this data you can give your kids a light explanation of why we celebrate the Independence of Mexico today and what happened on this day many years ago.

Now, let’s enjoy the food. Viva Mexico!

By the way, you can put together a patriotic outfit for your babies in the Baby Creysi Online Store. In fact, all the clothes are beautiful. Take a look!

Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara

Spanish version

Other interesting topics:

How to teach your children the value of money

Grandparents day, day of wisdom

How and why to empower a girl.