Student Activity

Mexican Holidays

Mexico and Its National Holidays


Comparing El Grito de Dolores and Cinco de Mayo

El Grito de Delores and Cinco de Mayo are Mexican holidays. Both commemorate battles fought by the Mexican people in the nineteenth century against European colonizers. El Grito de Delores, Mexico's Independence Day, commemorates the beginning of Mexico's war for independence against the Spanish in September, 1810. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla against the French in May of 1862.

Visit the following websites to learn more about the historical background for these two important Mexican national holidays.

Now look at these photographs taken during the centennial celebration of Mexican Independence September, 1910, and answer the discussion questions after each photograph. Then answer the questions about El Grito de Dolores and Cinco de Mayo.

Leading the Independence Day Parade, Mexico City (September, 1910)

  • Why are these men wearing military armor from the 16th century? What do they represent?

Indian Parade, Mexico City (September, 1910)

  • Why is it important for Indians in their traditional dress to be a part of Mexico’s Independence Day parade? What part did the Indians play in the struggle for independence from Spain?

Emperor Montezuma, Mexico City (September, 1910)

  • Why do you think the famous Aztec ruler Montezuma is part of the Independence Day celebration? What do you think he represents to Mexicans?

Centenary Celebration, Mexico City (September, 1910)

  • In the festive lights on this building, why do you think the word "Libertad" (liberty), placed below the date 1810, has been paired with the word "Progreso" (progress) below 1910, when the picture was
  • Which of the two holidays, El Grito de Dolores or Cinco de Mayo is similar to the Fourth of July in the United States?
  • Which of the two holidays appears to be more popular in the United States?
  • Do you think Cinco De Mayo has become more popular in the U.S. than it is in Mexico?


Dia de Nuestra Señora De Guadalupe

The story of Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, celebrated on December 12th, recounts the moment in the history of Mexico and the Roman Catholic Church when the Catholic faith entered into the hearts of the Mexican people. Learn more about this holiday by visiting the Our Lady of Guadalupe: Patroness of the Americas website. Be sure to look at the following links very carefully before you answer the discussion questions.

  • What sort of man was Juan Diego?
  • Why do you think the Virgin Mary appeared to him?
  • How do you think Juan Diego perceived the image of the Virgin Mary?
  • Why was it important that the Virgin Mary resembled the indigenous people in Diego’s vision?
  • How do these images of Our Lady of Guadalupe respond specifically to the Mexican-Catholic faith?
  • Why do you suppose Father Hidalgo used an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a banner during the Mexican revolution of 1810?
  • Do you see a link between the significance of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Revolution?
  • Can you think of any holidays celebrated in the United States that are similar to the Dia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe?


An altar for Los Muertos

El Dia De Los Muertos, celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, can be compared in some of its aspects to the American celebration of Halloween, or All Hallows’ Eve. But there are some distinctive differences in the practices and customs of the Mexican holiday, which continues customs dating back before the coming of Europeans and Christianity. Visit the following websites to learn more about some of the fascinating traditions associated with celebrations of the Day of the Dead.

After you've learned more about the way Mexicans celebrate the Days of the Dead, look at the following resources and create your very own decorations and offerings for an altar to the dead. You will be able to even create interactively your own altar for the dead. You can then proceed to answer the questions about El Dia de los Muertos.

  • What significance do these decorations have for the dead and the living?
  • How is death perceived in this tradition?
  • What is the tradition celebrating?