Holidays

Mexico celebrates a wide range of holidays

Statutory Holidays

Everyone is entitled to a paid day off (or extra pay if required to work).

When a statutory holiday falls on a Sunday, Monday is considered the holiday; if a statutory holiday falls on Saturday, Friday will be considered the holiday.

Date English name Spanish name Description
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
Observance: First Monday of February.
March 21 Juárez's Birthday Natalicio de Benito Juárez Commemorates President Benito Juárez's birthday in 1806
Observance: Third Monday of March
May 1 Labor Day Día del Trabajo Commemorates the Mexican workers' union movements
September 16 Independence Day Día de la Independencia Commemorates the start of the Independence War by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in 1810
November 20 Revolution Day Día de la Revolución Commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution by Francisco I. Madero in 1910
Observance: Third Monday of November.
December 1 Change of Federal Government Transmisión del Poder Ejecutivo Federal Every six years, when a new President is sworn in
Next observance: December 1, 2012.
December 25 Christmas Navidad Christmas celebration; secular and religious holiday

In addition to these dates, election days designated by federal and local laws are also statutory holidays.

Civic Holidays

Observed nationwide, but workers aren't entitled to paid time off

Date English name Spanish name Description
February 19 Army Day Día del Ejército Celebrates the Mexican Army on Loyalty Day ("Día de la Lealtad"), when President Madero was escorted by the Cadets of the Military College to the National Palace
February 24 Flag Day Día de la Bandera Celebrates the current Flag of Mexico and honors the previous ones
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 Cinco de Mayo Cinco de Mayo Very minor celebration of the victory of the Mexican Army, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza against French forces in the city of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.

Although Mexican citizens feel proud of the meaning of Cinco de Mayo, it is not a national holiday in Mexico but is an official holiday in the State of Puebla where the battle took place.
May 8 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 Navy Day Día de la Marina Celebrates the Mexican Navy
September 13 "Boy Heroes" or "Heroic Cadets" 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 Creole Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. Executive officers of all levels re-enact the Grito on this date.
September 27 Achievement of Independence
Consumación de la Independencia Celebrates the end of the Mexican Independence War in 1821 11 years after it began
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 Italian navigator Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus in English, Cristóbal Colón in Spanish).

Festivities

Traditional and popular, but not official

Date English name Spanish name Description
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).
January 17 Feast Day of San Antonio de Abad Día de  San Antonio de Abad Religious Holiday during which the Catholic Church traditionally allowed animals to enter the church for blessing. Most churches these days "celebrate" animals without bringing them inside.
February 2 Candlemas Día de la Candelaria Religious holiday that is celebrated with processions, dancing, bullfights in certain cities, and the blessing of seeds and candles
February 12-28
(varies)
Carnaval
Carnaval Carnaval is a holiday that kicks off a five-day celebration of excess before the Catholic lent. Beginning the weekend before Lent, Carnaval is celebrated exuberantly with parades, floats and dancing in the streets.There are a lot of local events that begin before the public celebrations are seen. As soon as the Christmas festivities are over, the carnaval participants begin preparations. The dancers begin practicing their dances and the designers begin work their creations.

Cozumel is one of the top celebrations of Carnaval in the world. There are many dances all over town and at the hotels, with parades at night. The best traditional foods are set up at restaurants all over the main square and everyone participates. The parade is usually best on the last night, which is Shrove Tuesday before Lent. Enjoy the delightful food stands set up downtown and around the palacio grounds. The celebrations bring famous singers, dancers and stars. It's suspected that many stars can get out and about without being identified because everyone is dressed up.

The biggest events are the parades which are Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday. The parade begins at the south part of town behind the municipal building, goes down the beachfront 'Malecon' to the airport road, and then back. Most parades begin about 6:30 and end about 9:00. The last one is usually the longest and best as that is the float competition night. This is Cozumel's best celebration and takes many weeks of preparations.

February 14 Valentine's Day Día de San Valentín Celebrates amorous unions. On this day, traditionally, men give chocolates, flowers, jewelry, dinner and serenade their special women, as well as their female friends.
March (varies) Vernal Equinox
Visitors gather on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes at the main temple at Chichén Itzá to witness the spectacular descent of the plumed serpent, Kukulcan. The ancient Maya constructed the pyramid-shaped temple in such a way that, during the equinox, a beam of sunlight creates a dramatic serpentine shadow that moves down the steps towards the earth, like a real snake slithering down the face of the temple.
April (varies) Holy Week
Semana Santa Holy week and Easter. During the days leading up to and including Easter, Mexicans hold celebrations and somber processions in observance of Christ's resurrection. This is a holy week that ends the 40-day Lent period. This week includes Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It is Mexican custom to break confetti-filled eggs over the heads of friends and family.
April 30 Children's Day Día del Niño Honors all children
April 30 to
May 3
Cedral Festival
Feria del Cedral This historic festival is held in the small town of El Cedral, in the south of Cozumel Island. This annual event is said to have been started over 150 years ago by Casimiro Cárdenas, who was one of a group that fled to the island from the village of Saban, on the mainland, after an attack during the War of the Castes. The attackers killed many other villagers, but Cárdenas survived while clutching a small wooden cross. Legend has it that Cárdenas vowed to start an annual festival wherever he settled, to honor the religious power of this crucifix.

Today, the original Holy Cross Festival forms part of the wider Festival of El Cedral, which includes fairs, traditional feasts, rodeos, bullfights, music and competitions. The celebrations last about 5 days in all and are held every year at the end of April or beginning of May. La Feria de Cedral is a popular event for the locals. It is a fair-type event that includes an array of traditional Mexican and Yucatecan dishes and crafts. They exhibit livestock and have rides set up as well.

May 3 Holy Cross Day
Día de la Santa Cruz Construction workers decorate and mount crosses on unfinished buildings, followed by fireworks and picnics at the construction site.
May 10 Mothers' Day Día de las Madres Honors all mothers
May 15 Teachers' Day Día del Maestro Honors all teachers
May 23 Students' Day Día del Estudiante Honors all students
3rd Sunday of June Fathers' Day Día del Padre Honors all fathers
September (varies) Festival of St. Michael
Dia de San Miguel The patron saint of the town of San Miguel is the Archangel Saint Michael. Every year from Sept. 21-25 there are fireworks and a Naval procession in the town square in front of the pier.

About 90 years ago, a group of workers digging in an area north of town unearthed a statue of the archangel St Michael carved from ivory, brandishing a sword of pure gold and wearing a gold crown. This event occurred on a day holy to San Miguel — September 29. To the locals, this coincidence was too great to dismiss as less than a miracle, and thus the town was renamed. The statue is believed to have been a gift from Juan de Grijalva as part of an attempt to introduce Christianity to the island. The original statue was sent to Merida to be restored. Some say that the real statue never returned, and that the one on display is an exact replica rather than the original, but this has never been proven.

Today, the locals wish for safety from hurricanes, a good tourist season, fruitful fishing season, and God's blessing.
September
(varies)
Autumnal Equinox   The shadow pattern of the plumed serpent Kukulcan descends the main pyramid of Chichén Itzá, just as it does at the vernal equinox
November 1 All Saints' Day (Day of the Dead) Día de Todos los Santos Honors dead relatives or friends (who were less than 18 years of age and unmarried) with candles, food and flower offerings, altars, and rituals
November 2 All Souls' Day (Day of the Dead) Día de los Fieles Difuntos Honors dead relatives or friends (who were more than 18 years of age or married) with candles, food and flower offerings, altars, and rituals
December 12 Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe Celebrates the day the patron saint of Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe, appeared on Tepeyac hill to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin
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 gelatin and a milk-based gelatin 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 Holy Innocents Día 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 someone falls for a 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, 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 this time 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 enjoyed in the new year.

Mexicans celebrate by having a late-night dinner with their families, the traditional meal being turkey and mole. Those who want to party generally go out afterwards, to local parties or night clubs. 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, believe it or not, sing Auld Lang Syne.