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Why is May 25th an Important Date in Argentina?

By Devon Pryor
Updated May 23, 2024
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May 25th is an important date in Argentina because it marks the annual celebration of the May Revolution. May 25th is known as el Día de la Revolución de Mayo, or the Day of the May Revolution. More specifically, this day marks the creation of the First Junta, a local authority that took over governance of Buenos Aires from the Spanish Viceroyalty on this date in 1810.

In the year 1810, the country of Argentina, along with neighboring Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, were controlled by Spain through the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. This system of Viceroyalty was headed by Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros, who also served as the viceroy in the city of Buenos Aires at the time. Following news of Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Spain and overthrow of the Spanish king, unrest grew among the Buenos Aires population.

On Friday, 18 May 1810, Viceroy Cisneros attempted to calm the stirring population by making a public announcement. He asked for allegiance to the overthrown Spanish king, Ferdinand VII Bourbon. Despite Cisneros’ attempts to conceal the true situation, the population of Buenos Aires, in particular the Creole population known as criollos, were savvy to the opportunity to change the power structure in the city.

A secret meeting was arranged to discuss the situation and the opportunity for changing the political power structure in Buenos Aires. It was decided that the people would request a public town meeting with Cisneros. This open town meeting would later come to be called the Cabildo Abierto. Two representatives were chosen to petition for the Cabildo Abierto, and on Saturday, 19 May 1810, the Viceroy met with Juan José Castelli and Martín Rodríguez to receive the petition.

Fearing that the outcome of the Cabildo Abierto would not be in his favor, Viceroy Cisneros avoided a decision. Over the following two days, Cisneros attempted to confirm whether he still had support, and just where that support lay. On Monday, 21 May 1810, restless and impatient with the delay, the people demonstrated their discontent in la Plaza de la Victoria. This plaza would later become la Plaza de Mayo, the location of Argentina’s Government building, the famed Casa Rosada. The will of the people was clear, and Cisneros authorized the Cabildo Abierto, which would be held the next day.

On the 22nd, the Cabildo Abeirto commenced, and speeches were made by prominent debaters on both sides of the argument. The Buenos Aires archbishop, Benito de Lué warned against sudden change. Representing the populace of Argentina and the other countries under control of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, Juan José Castelli affirmed need for self-governance in light of the ongoing upheaval in Spain. The affirmation was that the Viceroyalty was invalid since King Ferdinand, who had appointed the Viceroyalty, was not currently in power.

The Cabildo Abierto voted the following day and the decision was made to remove Cisneros as viceroy and replace his sole power with a Junta consisting of Cisneros and other important public representatives. Public opinion held that through governance by a Junta headed by Cisneros, the power dynamic would not be any different than when Cisneros had been Viceroy, and members of the Junta were persuaded to reject their positions.

Finally, on May 25th the will of the people was enforced. Although the Cabildo Abierto had planned to enforce the Junta and reject any resignations from appointed members, it was made clear that Cisneros no longer had any support, and the Junta he headed was therefore pointless. Cisneros was asked to resign entirely, and a new Junta known as the First Junta was formed. It was called the First Junta because it was formed entirely of members of the Buenos Aires populace, and free of direct influence from the Spanish Crown. Thus, through the creation of the First Junta, Buenos Aires became the first achieve self-governance, making it an example for other countries controlled by the Spanish Viceroyalty.

Events in the week leading up to the May 25th are celebrated collectively as la Semana de Mayo, or May Week. This is due to the fact that the so-called May Revolution took place within a week. Although the majority of significant events began on May 18th, the culmination of the May Revolution on May 25th is the day on which the commemorative festivities are held each year.

Argentines are likely to celebrate the national holiday by abstaining from work, spending time with family, and perhaps eating locro, a traditional food consumed on many Argentine national holidays.

Historical Index is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By roxybob — On Mar 01, 2013

More recently, 25 May, 2003 is the day former president Nestor Kirchner, husband of the current president, Cristina Kirchner, first assumed office. 2013 marks 10 years of Kirchner-led government in Argentina. Many are happy with that, some are not....

By anon32304 — On May 19, 2009

I think this is quite an interesting article, brief, but concise.

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