On September 16, 1810, after Mexicans had endured 300 years of harsh, authoritarian Spanish rule, a priest from the city of Delores decided enough was enough. Father Miguel Hidalgo rang his church bell and delivered a powerful speech, now known as El Grito de Delores (The Cry of Delores), imploring his fellow citizens to rise up and fight for their independence. This date is celebrated every year in Mexico as their official independence day, though the War with Spain would not be won for another eleven years.
The cry that’s still heard around the world
Today, more than 200 years after Father Hidalgo issued the famous El Grito de Delores, El Dia de Indenpencia continues to be observed annually on September 16th in Mexico and by people with Mexican heritage around the world.
The celebration begins on the 15th of September, with the President of Mexico appearing on the balcony of the National Palace around 11 p.m. to read the famous Grito de Delores speech and ring the very same bell Hidalgo rang centuries ago. At the end of each line, he pauses so the crowd can shout “Viva!” The event is attended by hundreds of thousands of people, and reaches millions more through live broadcasts on both TV and radio.
Some families have their own traditions surrounding this sacred holiday. They will gather on the night of the 15th to ring in El Dia de Independencia at midnight. They may serve traditional dishes, ring a bell, and make toasts; similar to New Year’s Eve in the U.S.
Patriotism and festivities
September 16th is a national holiday, so businesses and schools are closed. There is substantial national pride associated with the independence day holiday in Mexico. You will see Mexican flags everywhere as well as the colors, red, white and green, displayed in numerous ways from light projections on buildings to floral arrangements to clothing to traditional foods that include red, white and green ingredients. A large national military parade marches to the site of Hidalgo’s memorial.
Following the reenactment and official traditions, the festivities begin in cities and towns all over Mexico. Wherever you go, you’ll find parties, parades, mariachi bands, dancing, feasts, fireworks, and plenty of chants of “Viva Mexico.”