Today September 16, 2014 is Independence Day in Mexico. Today I thought I would give the history of Mexican independence Day.
In the early nineteenth century, Mexico, with a little influence from the US and France, began talking about a revolt against Spain. Father Miguel Hidalgo from Dolores, Mexico, was a leader of one of the rallying groups. Hidalgo and his officers were planning a revolt for late fall of 1810. The Spanish people found out about the revolt which led the Spanish Government to order the arrest of Hidalgo and his officers. When Hidalgo found out, he called a meeting at his church. He rang the church bell on the night of September 15, 1810 to call his congregation to mass. Here Father Hidalgo rallied the people to fight. He gave the speech which is now known as ‘Grito de Delores’, saying “Viva Mexico” and “Viva la independencia!” These famous words have been remembered and are said each year at the Independence Day celebrations.
This event has since assumed an almost mythic status. Since the late 20th century, Hidalgo y Costilla’s “cry of independence” has become emblematic of Mexican independence.
Each year on the night of September 15 at around eleven in the evening, the President of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace in Mexico City. After the ringing of the bell, he repeats a shout of patriotism (a Grito Mexicano) based upon the “Grito de Dolores”, with the names of the important heroes of the Mexican War of Independence who were there on that very historical moment included, and ending with the threefold shout of ¡Viva México! from the balcony of the palace to the assembled crowd in the Plaza de la Constitución, or Zócalo, one of the largest public plazas in the world. After the shouting, he rings the bell again and waves the Flag of Mexico to the applause of the crowd, and is followed by the playing and mass singing of the Himno Nacional Mexicano, the national anthem, with a military band from the Mexican Armed Forces playing. This event draws up to half a million spectators from all over Mexico and tourists worldwide. On the morning of September 16, or Independence Day, the national military parade (the September 16 military parade) in honor of the holiday starts in the Zócalo and its outskirts, passes the Hidalgo Memorial and ends on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main boulevard, passing the El Ángel memorial column and other places along the way.
A similar celebration occurs in cities and towns all over Mexico, and in Mexican embassies and consulates worldwide on the 15th or the 16th. The mayor (or governor, in the case of state capitals and ambassadors or consuls in the case of overseas celebrations), rings a bell and gives the traditional words, with the names of Mexican independence heroes included, ending with the threefold shout of Viva Mexico!, the bell ringing for the second time, the waving of the Mexican flag and the mass singing of the National Anthem by everyone in attendance. There are also celebrations in schools as well all over the country. In the 19th century, it became common practice for Mexican presidents in their final year in office to re-enact the Grito in Dolores Hidalgo, rather than in the National Palace. President Calderón officiated at the Grito in Dolores Hidalgo as part of the bicentennial celebrations in 2010 on the 16th of September, even though he had to do this first, to launch the national bicentennial celebrations, in the National Palace balcony on the night of the 15th. As a result, the 2012 commemoration, his last as President, was held in the National Palace balcony instead, thus becoming the third President breaking the traditional practice.
The following day, September 16 is Independence Day in Mexico and is considered a patriotic holiday, or fiesta patria (literally, Patriot Festival or Civic Festival). This day is marked by parades, patriotic programs, drum and bugle and marching band competitions, and special programs on the national and local media outlets, even concerts.
Full version of the Shout of Dolores today
This is the version often recited by the President of Mexico in the national commemorative activity in the National Palace or at the church in Dolores. Local leaders can adapt this to their respective circumstances from the state to the municipal or city level.
Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland (and liberty)!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Galeana and the Bravos!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live National Independence!
Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico! Long Live Mexico!
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron la patria y libertad!
¡Viva Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez!
¡Viva Galeana y los Bravo!
¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la Independencia Nacional!
¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!
Everyone fought together, including the Criollos (wealthy Mexicans of Spanish descent), Mesizos (children born from the marriage of a Spaniard and an Indian), and Indians. Armed with clubs, knives, stone slings, and ancient guns, they fought as they marched to Mexico City. A battle took place in Guanajuato between the Spanish soldiers and Hidalgo’s followers. The army sacked the town, killing the Spaniards. They continued to fight on their way to the capital. When they finally reached Mexico City, the army hesitated before going in to fight and some of them even disserted the army. Before the year was over Father Hidalgo was captured and executed. Some people continued to fight for the cause and Father Hidalgo’s Grito de Delores (Cry of Delores) became the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence. The people fought for eleven years before they finally won their freedom.
Today Mexican Independence Day is a major celebration in Mexico and is bigger than Cinco de Mayo. It is celebrated with a fiesta (party). The celebrating begins on September 15 (the eve of Independence Day) where crowds of people gather in the zocalos (town meeting place) of cities, towns, and villages. In Mexico City a huge square is decorated with flags, flowers and lights of red, white, and green. People sell confetti, whistles, horns, paper-machete helmets, and toys in the colors of red, white and green. There is also plenty of feasting! When the clock strikes eleven o’clock the crowd gets silent. On the last strike of eleven the president of Mexico steps out on the palace balcony, and rings the historic liberty bell that Father Hidalgo rang to call the people. Then the president gives the Grito de Delores. He shouts “Viva Mexico” “Viva la independencia” and the crowd echoes back. People do this at the same time all across Mexico. While the crowd says this they fill the air with confetti, streamers and hoopla. Castillos explode in showers of red, white, and green.
The actual day of September 16 is similar to July Fourth in the US. There are rodeos, parades, bullfights, horseback rider performances and grand feasts. The statues in memory of Father Hidalgo are decorated with red, white, and green flowers. The Mexican Flag is made up of green, white, and red. The green is on the left side of the flag and symbolizes independence. White is the color in the middle of the flag and symbolizes religion. The red is on the right side of the flag and symbolizes union. These colors are used often in decorating for the Mexican Independence Day fiesta.
I hope I have given you some insight in the history of Mexico. Thanks for reading, and Viva Mexico.
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina