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Rev. Michelle's Message September 14, 2023

¡Viva México!

Did you know that this Saturday, September 16, is Mexican Independence Day? Many people think it is Cinco de Mayo, but that day actually commemorates a battle the Mexicans won against the French in 1862. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday, but here in the United States it has been taken up by the Mexican-American community and embraced by non-Mexican Americans as well.

September 16, on the other hand, commemorates the day Mexico declared independence from Spain in 1810. It is actually celebrated at midnight on September 15th when “el grito” (the cheer) takes place in every city and pueblo across all of Mexico. At the government palace in Mexico City, the President of Mexico comes out on the balcony to lead the crowds in the traditional cheer. This consists of naming the founding fathers of Mexico with a cheer of “¡Viva!” which essentially means “long live.” The cheer concludes with three repetitions of ¡Viva México!

I had the opportunity to witness this celebration firsthand in 1991 when I was living in Guadalajara, which is the capital city of the state of Jalisco.

On this important day, Mexicans enjoy traditional dishes such as pozole or tamales, and typical Mexican beverages such as horchata (a sweet rice drink) or agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea). They have parties and display flags, and wear the colors of the Mexican flag–red, green, and white. The celebrations go into the wee hours.

Mexican Independence is also a part of our history here in California. Prior to independence, California was under Spanish rule and the upper part of the Californian peninsula where we live was called Alta California. After independence, Alta California became part of Mexico. The people of Mexican descent who lived here were called Californios and Spanish was the official language.

I think most of you know that my husband, Paco, is from Mexico, but perhaps some of you don’t know that my son, Alexander, is also half-Mexican. Mexico is a country and a culture that is very near and dear to my own heart as well. The Vargas family with likely be celebrating this Friday by going to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants.

I hope this helps you understand just a little bit more about Mexican culture, our own history as Californians, and the important intersection of the two. Happy Mexican Independence Day! ¡Viva México!

Many Blessings,

Rev. Michelle


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