El Grito, September 15 & 16 Mexico's Independence Day
The Grito de Dolores (better known as El Grito, the Cry for independence) celebrated every year on the night between September 15th and 16th is a Mexican holiday par excellence, it is the night when all citizens of Mexico celebrate their independence from the Spanish conquerers.
Since the arrival of Hernán Cortés in 1521 and the conquest of the area, what is now Mexico was called New Spain.
Influenced by the concepts established by French philosophers like Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu and USA's War of Independence, the Criollos (Spanish descendants born in America) who were treated as second-class subjects, decided to start an uprising.
Hidalgo mural by José Clemente Orozco in Guadalajara
At 5:00 am on September 16, 1810, the Priest Miguel Hidalgo, accompanied by several other co-conspirators, Ignacio Allende, Doña Josefina Ortiz de Domínguez, rang the bells of his small church in the town now called Dolores Hidalgo, calling everyone to fight for freedom, which is known as "El Grito de Dolores" (the announcement, or cry, of Dolores). One of the crucial moments in Mexican history.
It is celebrated every year at town squares (plaza or zócalo) of all major cities in the country and also in Puerto Vallarta. With two days of traditional Mexican fiesta y with fireworks, parades, games, speeches, all kinds of Mexican food and lots of fun for both locals and visitors.
September is the month of Mexico and streets are decorated across the country with paper flags (or plastic) and colorful garlands, which is locally called "papel picado". On each corner there are vendors with a colorful assortment of flags, balloons, hats and pinwheels, in white, red and green, the National colors. There are flags on the houses and all government buildings and town squares.
The main squares themselves are impressively decorated with garlands, patriotic decorations, lights and flags, this is in preparation for the evening party and the grito.
It all starts on the afternoon of September 15th, when Vallartans, local visitors and foreign tourists start to gather on the square and surrounding streets, leaving almost no room to move, so they can witnesses and participate in the grito. The town mayor, whomever it is at the time, repeats, like a mantra, the same words that the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla proclaimed over 200 years ago.
Before 11PM arrives, you can enjoy traditional snacks, as Mexican national cuisine is an important part of the festivities. The stands are installed long before the day of the celebrations and sell a variety of dishes including tacos, sopes, gorditas, tamales, enchiladas, tostadas, flautas, pambazos, sopes, huaraches and others.
Mexican candy and season fruit punch that includes guavas, sugarcane, raisins and apples. In restaurants food options include Mole Poblano, Chiles en nogada, Birria and others. All accompanied with non-stop mariachi music.
The euphoria and excitement grows as the night progresses and when 11PM arrives, the mayor makes an appearance on the town hall balcony, carrying the Mexican flag, a ritual that recreates the moment in which Hidalgo gathered his followers in Dolores, Guanajuato and the mayor recites something like the following, but can include changes and add local heroes and sometimes even events.
May the heroes that gave us our homeland live on!
Long live Hidalgo!
Long live Morelos!
Long live Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
Long live Allende!
Long live Aldama and Matamoros!
Long live our independence!
Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico! Viva Mexico!
The last "VIVA" chanted with great patriotism by all those present. the bell is rung and the flag is waved. Then everyone solemnly sings the national anthem and then the party starts!
The heavens are lit by a multitude of fireworks that brighten everyone present and fill them with pride, knowing that they now live in a free and independent country.
The next day, September 16th, a military parade takes place along the main streets of Puerto Vallarta in honor of the struggle for independence, all instances of the local defense participate, including fire department, health and the very loved and cheered charros .
Hidalgo y Costilla, the independence hero rests at Ángel de la Independencia in Mexico City
There is no doubt that at this time the real spirit and Mexican pride is at its peak and if you want to enjoy everything that makes Mexico what it is, do not miss the opportunity to experience it in Puerto Vallarta, the most Mexican beach destination in the country.
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