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 episode, during which time a number of special events were held, and a limited edition commemorative $100 peso banknote (now a collector’s item) was produced.
Low-key by comparison to Independence Day
While Mexico’s annual Independence Day is celebrated with vigor on September 16th each year, featuring 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 zócalo, 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.
Now part of Mexico’s long-weekend holiday dates
Mexico’s Revolution Day is one of the public holidays which was folded into a selection of designated “long weekends,” introduced in 2006, and is observed on the third Monday in November regardless of what day the 20th falls on.
The Revolution Day holiday weekend is also tied to an event known as “El Buen Fin” (“the good weekend”)—where retailers and travel companies across the country join in a promotional extravaganza offering discounts and other savings, emulating the US 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.
Historical viewpoints vary
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 revolution, 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 (Spanish) shows how complicated a matter it was.
Mexico in your inbox
Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up of recently published stories and opportunities, as well as gems from our archives.