“El Grito” (The Shout)

Celebrating the GritoShortly after we arrived in Querétaro, the “Día de la Independencia” or Independence Day was celebrated throughout Mexico.  Celebrations begin the evening of September 15th with fireworks and parties that are livelier than those of New Year’s Eve.  The biggest celebration takes place in Mexico City’s main square or “zocolo”, which is decorated with red, white and green lights and Mexican flags.

The celebrations stem from an historic event which occurred on September 16, 1810 when Miguel Hidalgo, a priest in the small town of Dolores, Guanajuato, rang the church bell to gather the townspeople.  Flanked by Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, he called for the people of Mexico to rise up against the Spanish Crown, thus initiating Mexico’s War of Independence. The country did not achieve independence until 1821, but it is this event, known as the Grito de Dolores, which is commemorated every year in town squares across Mexico.

On the evening of September 15th, at 11 pm, the Mexican President goes out on the central balcony of the National Palace (Palacio Nacional), rings the bell (the same bell Hidalgo rang in 1810, brought to Mexico City in 1886) and cries to the people gathered in the square below, who enthusiastically respond “¡Viva!”

The words of the Grito may vary from location to location, but they generally sound like this:

 ¡Vivan los heroes que nos dieron patria! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Hidalgo! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Morelos! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Allende! ¡Viva!
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros! ¡Viva!
¡Viva nuestra independencia! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva!
¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva!

 In Queretaro, at the end of the third ¡Viva Mexico!, the crowds went wild waving flags, ringing noisemakers and spraying foam.  At the same time, colorful fireworks lit up the sky right above our heads.  Soon, embers from the spent fireworks were raining down on us. The celebration culminated with the singing of the Mexican national anthem.  It was very exciting to experience this annual event in Queretaro.

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