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Mexican Independence Day

Mexican Independence Day celebrates the events and people that eventually resulted in independence from Spain, the country that had control over the territory of New Spain, as it was also known then. Fueled by three centuries of oppression and sparked by a call to revolt by the respected Catholic priest Hidalgo, the first call to arms was made in the village of Dolores, in the state of Guanajuato. The uprising pitted the poor indigenous Indians and mixed mestizo groups against the privileged classes of Spanish descent, and pushed them into a violent and bloody battle for freedom from Spain.

Shortly before dawn on September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla made a momentous decision that revolutionized the course of Mexican history. Within hours, Hidalgo, a Catholic priest in the village of Dolores, ordered the arrest of Dolores' native Spaniards. Then Hidalgo rang the church bell as he customarily did to call the Indians to mass. The message that Hidalgo gave to the Indians and mestizos called them to retaliate against the hated Gachupines, or native Spaniards, who had exploited and oppressed Mexicans for ten generations.

Although a movement toward Mexican independence had already been in progress since Napoleon's conquest of Spain, Hidalgo's passionate declaration was a swift, unpremeditated decision on his part. "Mexicanos, Viva Mexico!” (Mexicans, long live Mexico!) Hidalgo told the Mexicans who were the members of New Spain's lowest caste. He urged the exploited and embittered Mexicans to recover the lands that were stolen from their forefathers. That he was calling these people to revolution was a radical change from the original revolution plot devised by the Criollos, or Mexican-born Spaniards.

The largest Independence Day celebration takes place in Mexico City's Zocalo, which is decorated from the beginning of September with red, white and green lights and Mexican flags. On the 15th, at 11 pm the President of the Republic goes out onto 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

(The words of the Grito may vary, but they go something like this)

"¡Viva!"

¡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 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. .

The celebrations continue on the 16th with civic ceremonies and parades - the largest taking place in Mexico City, but perhaps the most touching festivities are those in small communities in which school children of all ages participate. In Los Cabos, for weeks before September 16, you will see vendors on every corner selling Mexican flags and other decorations in the countries colors of red, green and white. Incredible, world class displays of fireworks follow the Grito. The Grito is celebrated in Mexico City so due to the difference in time zones, watch for the fireworks at 10 p.m. in Los Cabos.

Like most festivities, certain foods are considered representative of Independence Day. A favorite is pozole, a soup made of hominy and pork. Other foods have the colors of the Mexican flag - red white and green, like chiles en nogada. And of course, it just wouldn't be a party without plenty of mezcal and tequila

Posted: Saturday, September 10, 2011 7:56 AM by Nick Fong

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