Culture & History

November 20th: Mexico’s Revolution Day

Monument to the Mexican Revolution in Mexico City

November 20th marks the anniversary of  the start of the 1910-1917 Revolution – specifically the call to arms by Francisco I. Madero to unseat the dictator Porfirio Díaz, who had remained in power for more than three decades. 2010 marked the centenary of the event, during which time a number of special events were held, and a limited edition commemorative banknote (which are now collector’s items) were produced.

While Mexico’s annual Independence Day celebrations celebrated with vigor on September 16th each year involve parties, fireworks, gatherings of family and friends to eat traditional dishes such as pozole and tostadas, and the 11 p.m. “grito” – either watched on television or attended at the local plaza, Día de la Revolución is little more than another día festivo – a day off school or work – and the reflections and orations on the achievements of those years of turmoil are left almost exclusively to the political classes.

Revolution Day is one of the public holidays which was folded into a selection of designated “long weekends“, or bank holidays, introduced in 2006 and today, the closest holiday weekend to the anniversary is now known as “El Buen Fin” (“the good weekend”)–an event where retailers and travel companies across the country join in a promotional extravaganza offering discounts and other savings, emulating the U.S. tradition of Black Friday, when stores begin their holiday season sales.  The initiative, which was first introduced in 2011, has become a de-facto annual shopping event in Mexico.

While few Mexicans question the importance of the birth of an independent nation after three centuries of colonial rule, the 1910-1917 period of conflict that led to the promulgation of the 1917 Constitution was far more complex, and to a certain extent inconclusive. A number of the better-known heroes of the Revolution were themselves killed in acts of treachery well after 1917. Emiliano Zapata in 1919, Venustiano Carranza in 1920, Francisco Villa in 1923, and Álvaro Obregón in 1928.

Disagreements continue to this day on the significance of the events that made up the “Revolución” with ideas usually influenced by political views. The revolution is not the same thing seen from the left as from the right, and its success or failure from either of those viewpoints is not something that can be easily settled. The Wikipedia article shows how complicated a matter it was.

See Also: A Brief History of Mexico

1 Comment

  1. allen specht says

    It is now February 2015. I regret there are not more ongoing events to honour events that occurred in the decade 1910 to 1920. For example, in April of this year is the centennial of the two “Battles of Celaya” in which the forces under Pancho Villa and Alvaro Obregon fought. These battles are considered the turning point in the struggle between the two coalitions. The battles are also very well described in Obregon’s book
    Ocho Mil Kilometros en Campaña. I do not know, but wish there were some tours or at least historical markings to identify this site and recognize its historical significance. Please let me know.

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