Holidays in Mexico

By Brooke Gazer

Mexico is rich in Fiestas, any excuse for a party will do! Most people celebrate two birthdays, the day of their birth and their own personal Saint’s day. Including statutory holidays I count 33 official days for festivities and celebration. There are however, only seven official statutory holidays in Mexico. These are called “feriados” or “días de asuetos”. If you have an employee, you must either give them the day off or pay them double to work on these days. This includes maids and gardeners if they would normally work for you on the day in question. The “Ley Federal de Trabajo” was modified a few years ago to reassign some national holidays to a Monday in order to promote more national tourism, creating “Puentes” (long weekends).

Statutory Holidays

Dec. 25…. Christmas Day, the birth of Christ

Jan. 1….New Year’s Day, the start of a new year

Feb. 5…. Day of the Constitution, celebrates the ratification of the constitutions of 1857 and 1919. (This is observed on the first Monday of February as a Puente)

Mar. 21….The Birthday of Benito Juarez, Mexico’s most beloved president, who was born in 1806. (The Puente is celebrated on the third Monday in March.)

May 1….Labor Day, This commemorates Mexico’s labor union movement.

Sept. 16…. Independence Day, commemorates the beginning of the War of Independence in 1810, when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called the peasants to rebel against the tyranny of the Spaniards. It officially begins at midnight on September 15 with “El Grito de Dolores”.

Nov. 20….Day of the Revolution, honors the Revolution that was begun by Francisco Madero in 1910 (The Puente usually falls on the third Monday in November.)

Dec. 1….Change of Government, only occurs every six years when a new government is sworn in. The next change will occur in 2018.

I find it a bit quirky that this country, which has a separation of church and state, offers Christmas day as an official day of celebration but not Easter. After Christmas, Easter is probably the most celebrated religious holiday in Mexico. The following is a list of days which are not obligatory, but many employers offer their workers time off. If you hire a maid or gardener you may consider offering them some of these days as a show of good will.

Jan. 6….Day of the Three Kings (Epiphany); celebrates the gifts brought to the baby Jesus by the Magi and the end of the twelve days of Christmas. Families exchange gifts and hold a festive evening meal with friends that features a wreath-shaped kings’ cake (rosca de reyes).

Feb. 12…. Flag Day, not a statutory holiday, but there will be parades to honor the tri-colored flag of Mexico.

Easter Week…. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. While not official statutory holidays, many employers offer all four days, some only Saturday and Easter Sunday or Friday and Sunday.

May 10…. Mother’s Day, honors all mothers and it is common for employers to give mothers half a day to be spoiled by their families (Mothers Day is often celebrated on the closest Monday to May 10.)

Nov. 1 – 2…. Day of the Dead; If your employees are traditional, they may want to take this day to celebrate the passing of friends and family members. They will hold all-night vigils for the souls of departed loved ones, the night of November 1 for children and November 2 for adults.

Dec.12 ….The Day of The Virgin of Guadalupe. In Latin America, the Virgin may be a more important religious icon than Christ himself.

Dec. 24…. Christmas Eve. Families gather on this evening to celebrate Christmas and have a huge meal at midnight, so especially women will appreciate leaving early this day in order to begin the preparations for this festival.

December 31… New Years Eve, This is also a huge time for families to celebrate with a midnight meal and employees may appreciate a few extra hours to arrange for the festivities.

The following days are not official holidays but the banks are closed.

Feb. 24, the four days of Easter, Nov. 2, Dec. 12

Note: Many government offices close down completely from Dec. 12 (Virgin of Guadalupe) until Jan 6 (All Kings Day). Do not expect to get anything official accomplished during this time frame.

Brooke Gazer operates an oceanview bed and breakfast in Huatulco

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