El Grito is a special tradition to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. It consists of Mexican political leaders leading the people through a special cheer to celebrate the heroes of Mexico's independence movement. El Grito takes place every year on the night of September 15. In this way, the historical event that initiated Mexican independence from Spain is remembered every year.
In the early hours of the morning on September 15, 1810, the priest of the parish church in Dolores, Guanajuato, Father Miguel Hidalgo, rang the church bell and calle for the people of Mexico to rise up against the authorities of New Spain. This event is referred to as "El Grito de Dolores" since it took place in the town of Dolores. This marked the beginning of Mexico's War of Independence, although Spain didn't recognize Mexican independence until some eleven years later. .
How to Celebrate El Grito
This historical event is commemorated every year in Mexico on the night of September 15th. People gather in the Zocalos, town squares and plazas to participate in the patriotic fervor. In the National Palace in Mexico City, the president stands on the balcony and leads the crowd in the Grito, and governors and mayors do the same in cities throughout the country. The political leader says the first part and the crowd responds "¡Viva!" following each statement. The words of the Grito may vary, but they go something 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!
At the end of the third ¡Viva Mexico! the president rings the bell which represents the bell that Father Miguel Hidalgo rang when he called for the people to rise up against the Spanish crown. The crowd goes wild waving flags, ringing noisemakers and spraying foam. Then fireworks light up the sky as the crowd cheers. Later the Mexican national anthem is sung.
Where to Celebrate "El Grito"
If you are spending Mexican Independence Day in Mexico, and you enjoy being part of a large crowd, then you should make your way to the town plaza of whatever city you happen to be in by around 10 pm (or earlier to get a good spot) on September 15th to participate in el grito. The best destinations are:
- Mexico City
In Mexico City's main square, the Zocalo, the Mexican president initiates the grito from the balcony of the Palacio Nacional as hundreds of thousands of onlookers cheer. The grito is followed by singing the National Anthem, and fireworks.
- Dolores Hidalgo
This small town in Guanajuato state is known as the Cradle of Mexican Independence. Here you can celebrate the anniversary of Hidalgo's cry for independence in the town where it originated. On the morning of the 16th of September there is a civic parade, and other festivities to commemorate the occasion.
This UNESCO World Heritage city is the birthplace of the heroine of Mexico's independence movement, Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, often referred to as La Corregidora, who got the word out to Hidalgo that the royal forces were on to the insurgents' plans, prompting him to initiate the war (earlier than originally planned). The town celebrates in a grand manner, with fireworks and a festive atmosphere.
- San Miguel de Allende
The birthplace of Ignacio Allende, one of the leaders of the Mexican independence movement, San Miguel de Allende is a lovely colonial city which is very popular with expats. Celebrations here are exuberant, and since the town's Fiesta de San Miguel takes place around the same dates, there's plenty to see and do.
There are alternative ways to celebrate Mexico's independence, however. Many restaurants, hotels and nightclubs offer special Noche Mexicana celebrations, among other events taking place that night. It's a fun night for partying out on the town. Many families have their own Noche Mexicana in their homes, sometimes inviting friends and extended family to come over and eat traditional festive Mexican dishes such as pozole, chiles en nogada or tacos.