Today is one of the many holidays we have in Mexico, Benito Juarez Day. It is a national holiday here, and school is out, and all the banks and government offices are closed. So here is some background and history to Benito Juarez Day.
Per Article 74 of the labor law of Mexico, Benito Juarez Day is celebrated as a national day in Mexico on every third Monday of March. It is a public holiday that marks the birthday of former 19th century president of Mexico, Benito Juarez.
Juarez was famous for his resistance against the intervention of the French in Mexico during his time in office. To commemorate his efforts for the Mexican people, he is remembered on his birthday every year.
The History Behind Benito Juarez
Benito Juarez was born on March 21, 1806. He was a Mexican lawyer and a politician who was from the Zapotec part of Oaxaca. On January 15th, 1858, he was elected as president of Mexico where he was most notorious for his reformation of the Mexican system. He was dedicated to the creation of democracy, worked to reduce the Catholic Church’s influence on politics in Mexico, and also fought hard to campaign on behalf of the rights of indigenous peoples. Additionally, he defended the importance of national sovereignty. He served five terms as Mexico’s 26th president until July 18, 1872, over 14 years in total of serving. This included an interim term from 1858 to 1861, then terms 1861 to 1865, 1865 to 1867, 1867 to 1871, and 1871-1872 where he served as a constitutional president.
The era in which Juarez lived was perhaps one of the most chaotic eras of Mexican history. With this chaos, however, came great significance. This era resulted in what a multitude of historians would consider the nation’s consolidation as a republic. The role Juarez had on this result was significant, and his rule is reformed to the ‘La Reforma” period of Mexican history, or the Reform. Both a political and a social revolution had occurred during this time, resulting in significant reforms that translated into the Mexican constitution. Juarez, through his resistance of French occupation in Mexico, also managed to overthrow the Second Mexican Empire in order to restore the Mexican Republic. His efforts were incredibly liberal for the time and resulted in a modernisation of the entire country.
Perhaps it was Juarez’s childhood that significantly molded his future success, including his heritage. Juarez was raised by his uncle after his parents died when he was 3 due to complications from diabetes, his grandparents also dying shortly thereafter. Juarez was well aware of the indigenous identity his family held. That awareness surely contributed to his efforts in the future in protecting Mexico from further invasion and in defending the rights of the original people across the land.
Celebrating Benito Juarez Day in Mexico
This national holiday is Mexico has grown in acceptance and popularity over the years with the culture of Mexico and Mexican people. It commemorates the success and power of former President Benito Juarez as well as the fact that Juarez was the first and only (so far) full indigenous leader of Mexico. The holiday is celebrated across Mexico, but it is especially celebrated in bigger cities and in his home region compared to others. Here are some ideas of where to find the biggest festivals on this day in Mexico:
- Oaxaca: The home state of Juarez throws perhaps the largest celebrations in memory of Juarez.
- Mexico City: The capital of Mexico is heavily populated and celebrates every Mexican holiday with great panache.
- Guadalajara: Known for throwing a festival for each holiday, this Mexican city also observes the former president’s birthday.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina