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  • Writer's pictureAlan Travers

Mexico's National Holiday Guide | Tradition & Culture

Different kinds of Mexican holidays & traditions are celebrated throughout the year, regardless or not of the holiday being religious, historically significant or a national holiday the Mexican people always find ways to throw a grand fiesta and enjoy themselves.

If it is national holidays, regional celebrations or small colonial town traditions you will always find some fantastic culture that is sure to impress, the people usually celebrate by making masks, dressing up, listening to mariachi's and dancing traditional dances.

Importance of National Holidays & Tradition

Mexican holidays or celebrations are called fiestas here in Mexico, and they play an important part in modern-day society and Mexican culture.

There is only a small number of national holidays throughout the year but, there are always regional celebrations, fiestas and holidays happening all across the country every single day.

There is understood to be a minimum 10,000 fiestas happening throughout the year that are celebrated in the different states and cities in the country, though some more famous than others, all could easily be considered important!

Here are some of the more widely celebrated obligatory national holidays in Mexico.

Obligatory Public Holidays in Mexico

Statutory holidays in Mexico are national holidays for all of the working population throughout the country, there are only currently eight obligatory holidays in the year, and here is everything you need to know!

Año Nuevo (January 1st)

The first holiday in the Mexican calendar year to kick things off, is New Year's day, this holiday really doesn't change for anyone in the world, most people across the planet are celebrating with friends & family, having parties, making wishes and plans for the new year, and it's no different here in Mexico.

On New Year's Eve in Mexico, you will find families friends and strangers coming together and celebrating by drinking, dancing, eating, making plans and enjoying the beautifully lit up sky from the thousands of fireworks going off.

Even though it may be the same here as everywhere else, there are a couple of small traditional things happening that can make celebrating New Year's in Mexico somewhat unique.

The Mexican people love tradition and have strong connections to their heritage, the foods, music, dancing and fiestas will show you just how proud and traditional the people really are!

A lot like Christmas, many Mexican families like to enjoy one and others company by eating traditional Mexican food and reminiscing about some of the highlights of the year, usually over some tequila or a cold Mexican beer.

The dinner usually does be late in the evening, so most of the family tend to stick around and enjoy the fiesta until the countdown ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!(“Happy New Year”).

Día de la Constitución (February 5th)

Mexico's constitution day is an official holiday that is celebrated all around the country annually, this day marks the anniversary of Mexico’s most recently declared constitution, which came into decree on February 5th, 1917.

Mexico’s constitution (Constitución Política de Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos) was decreed shortly after the end of the Porfiriato dictatorship and was first drafted in Santiago de Querétaro.

This all came about thanks to an uprising that had started in 1910 to try and end the dictators rule over the country, after the revolution was successful, the Mexican constitutional congress drafted and approved the now-famous constitution on the date of February 5th, 1917.

During Mexico's constitution day, you can find events like festivals, parades, concerts, and street celebrations happening throughout the entire country.

Natalicio de Benito Juárez (March 21st)

Benito Juarez Day is a national holiday that is widely celebrated across the entire country every year. This public holiday always takes place on the third Monday in March, regardless of the date. The holiday is in commemoration of Benito Juarez and celebrates the birth of the former president of Mexico.

Benito Juarez is a national hero that is famous for making reforms to help eradicate the Porfiriato dictatorship and instead create a democratic federal republic.

Even though the holiday is celebrated everywhere in Mexico you won't find many events or activities happening across the country, you can expect to find a few politically organized events in Benito Juarez’s hometown of San Pablo Guelatao.

There usually is a plethora of fun activities for the public to come out and enjoy, there are things like amusement rides, food stalls, live music, contests, tournaments, firework shows and traditional dances, all to honour the birthday of Benito Juarez.

Semana de Santa (April 5th to 11th)

Easter is easily one of the most important religious festivals that happens around the globe annually in almost every country. The customs and traditions generally don't change throughout the world, while it is practically the same in every country, some places do try to incorporate some local culture and traditions into the religious festival.

Mexico has some small variations that tries to help incorporate some local tradition and culture into easter week, making the festival somewhat unique to Mexico.

The Holy Week (Semana de Santa) in Mexico, starts on Palm Sunday and finishes the following week on Easter Saturday, the next day is Easter Sunday (Pascua), and this also continues on all week until the next Saturday.

Most of the Mexican population are catholic, and they take religion very seriously, this is a hugely important festival in the country, so you can expect many businesses, offices and schools to close for some days during holy week.

In almost every state and city in Mexico, you will find Mexicans celebrating the last days of Christ by staging many events and activities throughout the holy week, some of the more elaborate and well-planned events include things like rituals, pilgrimages and dramatic reenactments of the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

Día del Trabajo (May 1st)

The international workers day (Labor Day) is celebrated all over the world, at different times throughout the year, it varies from country to country, but like most countries, Mexico celebrates this international holiday on May 1st every year.

On Labor Day in Mexico City and other large cities across the country, you can expect to find public demonstrations and large groups of people rallying together to promote workers rights and conditions, these demonstrations are usually done in the high streets of major cities.

Like most of the people across the world, the general population chooses to enjoy the day off at home, by spending some quality time with friends and family, there is nothing that makes Labor Day unique to Mexico.

Día de la Independencia (September 16th)

Mexico's independence day is celebrated on September 16th and not on May 5th, in contrast to what many Americans seem to believe.

The common misconception that the Mexican independence day is celebrated on May 5th is because many Americans living in California celebrate Cinco de Mayo every year with little to no understanding of the holiday, but more on that later, let's talk about the actual Mexican independence day!

Mexico's Independence Day celebrates the country's liberation from Spain in 1810, the celebration/fiesta starts one day before the actual event took place.

To kick things off, there is the el Grito ceremony which commemorates the Shout of Dolores in 1810, which ultimately gave way to the War of Independence, after the ceremony there does be a fireworks show, which is then followed by traditional music with plenty of dancing and drinking.

On the day of Mexico's independence, you can expect to find parades, celebrations and fiestas to be happening in almost every city or colonial town across the entire country.

Día de la Revolución (November 20th)

Mexico's Revolution Day (Dia de la Revolución) is a national public holiday that celebrates the anniversary of the 7-year revolution that started in 1910, which ultimately brought an end to the Porfiriato dictatorship. The official anniversary date is November 20th, however, the public holiday is always celebrated on the third Monday in November, regardless of the date.

There are tons of events, festivals, parades and activities happening all over Mexico to celebrate the Revolution Day, you'll find that the Mexican people are very proud, you'll often hear shouts of "Viva la Revolución!" and "Viva Mexico!" throughout the day.

During the festive period, you will find people carrying and waving the Mexican flag and dressing up in traditional clothes, there also does be endless amounts of food stalls/street vendors serving up delicious traditional Mexican cuisines like Mole, Tacos, Enchiladas, Tamales, Elote and other famous staple foods.

Navidad (December 25th)

Although Christmas exists in Mexico, it's quite a different experience to what you would typically be used too, in the US and Europe, Christmas is celebrated mainly from December 24th to December 26th, but here in Mexico the festivities generally last an entire month.

The festivities here start December 12th and finish up on January 6th, there usually is a plethora of events, activities and fiestas going on during this time, the most significant of which being Los Pasados and also Día de Los Santos Inocentes, the Mexican equivalent to April fools day.

It is only in recent years that Mexico has started to adopt a more western approach to celebrating Christmas. The general tradition was that children had to write a letter to the Reyes Magos, and hope to receive gifts on January 6th.

While this tradition is still widely celebrated in the south of Mexico and some more deprived areas of the country, the rest of Mexico has since followed the western approach, Santa Claus stops by Mexico on December 23rd and in the early hours of the 24th to leave presents.

You can also expect to find different celebrations, traditions, events and activities to take place in different regions across the country as most of the states like to put their own stamp on things.

Some of the most notable regional celebrations and activities are listed just below:

  • Oaxaca’s Noche de Rábanos (Radish Night), December 23rd.

  • Yucatan's Mexican Christmas carolling over the festive period.

  • Tepoztlán's Nativity plays.


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