Millions will celebrate El Grito on September 15th, but how many of us understand the history of this historic ritual? I have to admit it was not entirely clear to me, but I now have a pretty good idea as I have been researching for this article. Here’s the rough walkthrough of what transpired and lead to the celebration of El Grito today.
What Is El Grito And What Does It Mean?
In the year 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte invades Spain. This fact makes Miguel Hidalgo definitively join the patriots and Creoles creating the rebellion against the Spanish colonial government in Mexico.
During the first half of the year 1810 the patriotic group formed mostly by Creoles, that is, Spaniards born in Mexico, hold a series of pro-independence clandestine meetings later called The Conspiracy of Queretaro.
On the night of September 15, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo sent Mauricio Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo in front of a group of armed men to free the people who were imprisoned for being in favor of the independence movements. The night of September 15th in 1810, went down in history as one of the most significant events in Mexico. Mexico’s war of independence was set in motion as Miguel Hidalgo, a priest from the small city of Dolores near Guanajuato, rang the church bells just before midnight. He called out to the Mexican people encouraging them to take up arms against the Spaniards, and reclaim the lands that were once stolen from their forefathers. This is where El Grito “Long live Mexico!” started the revolution.
The following morning on September 16th, 1810 Miguel Hidalgo called to mass and summoned his followers and workers from nearby fields. Within a few months, he managed to build up an army of loyal men ready to stand up and fight against the Spanish rule that had been for three centuries. Miguel Hidalgo manages within the next year to decree the abolition of slavery and to repeal the obligatory taxes imposed on the Indians, dying shot in Chihuahua on July 30, 1811.
The War of Independence went through many phases during its more than 10 years struggle. Thousands died for the cause during the war and never lived to realize their dream of independence. They did, however, spark the beginning flame that ultimately turned into an independent Mexico.
For that, millions across Mexico honor and celebrate the independence day and the historic El Grito made famous by Miguel Hidalgo back in 1810.
The Independence of Mexico was achieved after a decade of wars on September 27, 1821.
How Is El Grito Celebrated Today?
El Grito, in short, is the lively celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day. The actual independence day is September 16th, but the celebrations and El Grito starts out the night before. The main square in Mexico City, Zocalo, is jam-packed with thousands of people waving Mexican flags and filling the air with the sound of whistles and rattles.
The crowd goes silent as the clock strikes eleven. The president of Mexico steps out on the National Palace balcony, overlooking the crowd in Zocalo, as the clock makes its last strike. Here he rings the old historic liberty bell once used by Father Hidalgo. He then proceeds to give El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores) where he shouts “Viva Mexico”,”Viva la Independencia” with the crowd echoing back.
You can hear the Mexican anthem in the background, and fireworks light up the sky while the crowd celebrates the historic event.
Not everyone will be in Mexico City for this, but millions watch the surprisingly short event on TV and celebrate in their own way. Needless to say, the party continues until the early hours all over Mexico.
Here’s a video of how the celebrations of El Grito is done in Mexico City:
Best Places In Mexico to Celebrate El Grito
Have you ever wondered where would be the best place to celebrate the national holiday that is the independence day in Mexico? September 15 is just around the corner and you have to start making your plans now. It is without a doubt an event you shouldn’t miss for anything in the world if you are in Mexico. The celebration of the Cry of Independence on September 15 is a celebration that unites the whole country in thousands of events full of color, music and unique flavors.
Here is our pick of the best cities to celebrate El Grito in Mexico:
Of course, the capital of the country could not be missing from our list. There are countless celebrations that take place simultaneously throughout Mexico City. The most important place is the Zocalo where surrounding buildings become a show of lights, while on the Paseo de la Reforma Avenue the national colors are displayed. This is where the President of the Republic gives El Grito from the balcony of the National Palace, an event accompanied by fireworks and music with mariachi. All the shops in the surrounding area join the celebration. Head to the bars and restaurants surrounding Zocalo if you do not like all the tumults but still want to be part of the celebrations. From here you can still very much enjoy music, the fireworks and join in when it’s time to shout “Viva!” To the call of “Viva Mexico!“
Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato
With beautiful buildings that evoke the colonial era and where their mystical legends come to life, Dolores Hidalgo is one the best city to celebrate the national holidays. Guess why? Here is the Parish of Our Lady of Dolores, where the priest Miguel Hidalgo gave the famous cry to summon the people and fight for independence. This is the place where everything began back in 1810. The city of Dolores Hidalgo is a beautiful colonial city that celebrates El Grito in a traditional way, with tequila and fireworks. And even though it does not have the grandeur of the celebrations in Mexico City, this city will still surprise you with its colorful, unique atmosphere and flavors.
A beautiful colonial city that you must take into account to commemorate this historic event, as it was here where Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, “La Corregidora”, and the conspirators planned the independence movement. This beautiful city was the headquarters of the pro-independence conspirators long before the war. You can not miss the pyrotechnics illuminating its majestic buildings and the fun atmosphere that characterizes this celebration. Enjoy the street snacks, restaurants and the bars located in the center, is a wonderful celebration of “El Grito de Independencia” that starts from September 12.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
One of the most iconic places to celebrate the Mexican independence day. General Ignacio Allende was born here in one of its old, but elegant mansions. General Ignacio Allende was one of the leaders of this movement. At night, thousands of people gather in the main square for El Grito, a fun party that you should not miss. It’s best to book your hotel in advance, as this city is full of visitors eager to be part of an incredible celebration. The call of the bells of its pink cathedral brings tourists and locals together to be part of a historic recreation of the call to stand up for independence, an event that closes with fireworks to give way to concerts and celebrations from day 16.
In addition to the fascinating architecture of its old houses and buildings, Guadalajara is also characterized by its traditional festivities. Fireworks, live music, dancing, colonial buildings illuminated with patriotic colors (red, green and white); And of course, the popular cry “Viva México!” … A popular and traditional party that reflects the history of our country.