El Grito de Dolores The Mexican Call To Arms Against Spain
Mexican Independence Day is just around the corner. Find out when the freedom from Spain is celebrated, how Mexicans celebrate and why the day is celebrated a day early
Mexicans are days away from celebrating another year since the beginning of the fight for independence; more than two centuries have passed since September 16, 1810.
Why do we celebrate the night of September 15 and call it Fiesta del Grito?
It was very early in the morning on Sunday, September 16 when priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, after having been advised his conspiracy against the viceroy of new Spain had been discovered, lead the call to arms. He rang the bell of the parish church in Dolores, Guanajuato (today known as Dolores Hidalgo) to call the faithful to mass. He then convinced them to follow him in fighting to lift the yoke of Spanish oppression, taking advantage of the fact that France had invaded Spain. This was how the fight for Mexican independence began.
When was it celebrated for the first time?
Although José María Morelos assigned the day of the 16 as Independence Day, the first party was due to Empress Carlota arranging a celebration in 1864 in Dolores.
Then why is it celebrated on the 15?
The party on the night of September 15 is because according to legend, infamous dictator Porfirio Díaz wanted to move the party to coincide with his birthday. Ever since then, the custom each September 15 is for the current President to step out onto the central balcony of the National Palace and give “the cry”, celebrating the liberty of Mexico, remembering each one of the heroes who fought, culminating in a shout of “Viva México!”. The flag is waved, the bell of Dolores is rung, and the national anthem is sung. Then, a Mexican themed dinner is served, complete with mariachi music. This ritual is repeated in towns and houses all over the Mexican Republic.
But why is it called El Grito?
Hidalgo gave a short, enthusiastic speech to the people to follow him, although, in reality, there is no certainty of exactly what he said. In response to his speech, a small rudimentary army of around 200 armed men formed. Upon arriving in Atotonilco, Hidalgo took up a banner bearing the Virgin of Guadalupe as a flag, writing on it “Viva Las América! Death to the bad government!” This is why the night of September 15 is called El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores), “The Night of The Cry”, or “The Cry of Independence”.
President Enrique Peña Nieto waves the Mexican Flag during the el Grito celebration / Photo: wikipedia