For about 300 years, Mexico was a Spanish colony which was known as The New Spain. 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. His famous speech which is now known as ‘El Grito de Delores’, saying “Viva Mexico” and “Viva la Independencia!”
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. The celebrating begins on the evening of September 15 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, parades, and other civic festivities. 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 ‘El 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.
Happy Birthday, México!
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