Holidays Perspective Top

Viva México! Celebrating Independence Day in a pandemic

A plate of pozole, a traditional Mexican pork dish. (Regina López/YJI)

MEXICO CITY — A traditional Mexican Independence Day, Día de la Independencia, starts with taking the day off from school or work and going to your family’s or friends’ party – whichever you think will be the best. You’d fill your empty stomach with pounds of pozole and dance the cumbia until 11 p.m. when the president rings the bell.

Everyone would all gather to watch the president performing ‘el grito,’ which consists of him ringing the bell in the crowded Zócalo plaza like when Miguel Hidalgo did 210 years ago, while screaming “Viva México!”

But, this year wasn’t a traditional Independence Day.

Like the whole world, Mexicans had to lock themselves in their houses in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and now we are just trying to enjoy the holidays the best we can in the confines of our homes.

This was the first time most of us have experienced a global pandemic, so it is natural that we don´t know how to celebrate holidays.

Some people did Zoom meetings, others visited at least one relative and some just gave up this year.

I was lucky enough to spend Mexican Independence Day with my grandparents, because I live near them. We didn’t have the big party we always throw, but the lockdown didn’t keep us from celebrating our beloved holiday.

Of course,there was no school on the holiday, Sept. 16 – not even online – and my grandma’s awaited ‘pozole’ wasn’t missing. And like every year, that day, everyone wore a traditional Mexican costume, a soccer jersey or a piece of clothing with one color from the flag.

We all had dinner together just like the old times but with fewer people, and we ate as much pozole as we could, as if there was no tomorrow.

There was not a big party for you to ask a boy to dance, but still I think my brother and I danced a very decent version of the Jarabe Tapatío.

The moment that I felt sad was when we all gathered to watch ‘el grito’ and then realized that there was no one in the Zócalo watching it.

Generally there would be hundreds of thousands of people covered in paint screaming “Viva México” but this year, not a single person showed up. It felt lonely, like only my family and I were celebrating, because I heard that some friends weren’t celebrating this year.

And then I thought about other holidays coming. There might be no kids in the streets for Halloween and no people in Times Square for the New Year’s Eve, but aren’t people celebrating those two holidays?

I think it is important to celebrate as much as we can, especially in these strange times when sadness has conquered most of our moods.

This holiday, like most, is about feeling close to someone because you share the same culture and traditions, and this year it is especially important to grab that feeling as hard as you can, because otherwise it would feel really lonely.

Regina López is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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