Mexico celebrates its Independence Day on September 16 to commemorate the beginning of the struggle for freedom from Spanish rule.
As a foreign visitor in Mexico, I knew the day was closely approaching when I started seeing vendors on the street selling Mexican flags, streamers, horns, sombreros, toys and more in the colors of green, white and red!
Public buildings, commercial establishments, parks, cars and homes across Mexico are often decorated with the flag and its colors.
The following photo taken on August 16, 2007 with my mobile phone shows the public buildings around Mexico City’s Zócalo decorated in the colours of the Mexican flag. At that time, work on the red decoration had yet to begin but then there was still one more month left for the grand celebration.
Here’s a bit about Mexican Independence…After the Spanish Conquest in 1521, the Mexican people had to silently suffer at the hands of their rulers. Then one day, in the early hours of September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest in the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato (gwah-nah-hwah-toh), rang the church bell to call for the people to rise up against the Spanish Crown. Although he was later captured and shot for his insurrection, his actions sparked a movement that would lead to Mexico’s eventual independence from Spain in 1821.
Hidalgo’s call for freedom known as the Grito de Dolores (or Grito de la Independencia) or just “Grito” is commemorated across Mexico every year on the night of September 15. Crowds of people gather in the zócalos (“town squares”) of cities, towns, and villages. The Grito is re-enacted by reciting Hidalgo’s words and ringing a bell. The crowd shouts “Viva México!” (vee-vah meh-hee-koh) amidst flag-waving, confetti throwing and lots of noise. The occasion is marked by a display of fireworks.
The largest Independence Day celebration takes place in Mexico City’s Zócalo, which is decorated from the beginning of September with red, white and green lights and Mexican flags.
Huge crowds of people gather in the plaza silently waiting for the clock to strike 11pm. On the last strike of eleven, the president of Mexico steps out in the central balcony of the Palacio Nacional (“National Palace”), overlooking the Zócalo, and rings the historic liberty bell that Father Hidalgo rang to call the people. Then the president gives the Grito to the people gathered in the square below. He shouts “Viva México” “Viva la independencia” and the crowd enthusiastically echo back. People do this at the same time all across Mexico. At the end of the third “Viva México!” the crowd goes wild waving flags, blowing horns, ringing noisemakers and spraying foam. Then fireworks light up the sky as the crowd cheers. Later the Mexican national anthem is sung.
The event signals the start of the national day festivities which go on until the end of the next day. Many restaurants, hotels and nightclubs offer special Noche Mexicana (noh-cheh meh-hee-kah-nah) celebrations, among other events taking place that night. It’s a fun night for partying out on the town.
The next day’s celebrations are highlighted by civic ceremonies and parades – the largest taking place in Mexico City.
People celebrate the national day in many ways. Besides Mexico City, the popular destinations for the independence celebration are Dolores Hidalgo (doh-loh-rehs eeh-dahl-goh), Guanajuato and Queretaro, and other places which played an important role in the War of Independence.
Food, music, dance and partying are common elements of Mexican culture. And the national day celebrations calls for more…grand feasts!
Like most festivities, certain foods are considered representative of Independence Day. A favorite is the green-white-red chile en nogada. And of course, there’s no party without plenty of tequila and mezcal !
And now, here’s some epic music for your fine-tuned ears Rise of the Warriors Enjoy 🙂
Until we meet again…take care 🙂