Cozumel Holidays: Independence Da

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Independence Day (September 15-16)

by Susan Welk de Valdez

 

 

 

 
 

Every September 15th Mexicans commemorate the war of Independence, which was actually initiated in the small town of Dolores in Guanajuato Mexico on September 16, 1810.

On that day Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest from a wealthy family of Mexican-born Spaniards or criollos, rallied his parishioners to rise up in arms.

 

Interesting Factoid: Non-Mexicans often confuse Cinco de Mayo and Independence Day Click Here to Read Why.

 

Hidalgo urged them to use stones, slings, sticks or spears to defend their religion against the French heretics who he claimed were threatening to come to the Americas. This September eve was remembered as El Grito de Delores or the cry of Dolores.

Hidalgo had a hidden agenda, however, which was to incite his flock to rise up against Spaniards residing in Mexico. He accused these gachupines of exploiting the wealth of the Mexican people for more than 300 years.

 

n a short time more than 50,000 men, most of them poor Indians, joined Hidalgo. While the religious aspect of the fight attracted some of the new revolutionaries, others had less noble motives.

Within a short period of time, they had left the cities of San Miguel, Guanajuato and Celaya in ruin and were about to enter Mexico City. Along the way Hidalgo and his Indian and mestizo forces acquired a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a woman of color who was indigenous to Mexico. She became the banner of the revolutionary forces as the ragtag soldiers pressed on toward the capital and the expulsion of the gachupines.

At this point Hidalgo began to have some regrets about the bloodbath he had provoked with his fateful cry of Dolores. When he had made his hasty decision in the pre-dawn hours of September 16, he had not foreseen the mass slaughter of the Spaniards.

Before troops descended upon Mexico City, Hidalgo and a few associates retreated to Dolores. Within the year he was tried, condemned and executed by the gachupines.

This was not, however, the end of the peoples’ revolution. The seed had been planted, and a long and violent social struggle had begun. Father Hidalgo's Grito de Dolores became the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence and despite his change of heart, Hidalgo is still revered as the father of Mexican independence. Eleven years of war, decades of despotic Mexican rulers and political unrest followed Hidalgo's cry of Dolores. Yet throughout the years of turmoil, El Grito de Dolores, "Mexicanos, viva México," has persevered.

 

Recorded statements of witnesses who were present at the original event tell us that Hidalgo shouted “death to the Spaniards” and “long live the Virgin of Guadalupe”. However, the passing of time together with good manners and secularization have transformed the ritual from a call for a holy war to a peaceful, patriotic affirmation.

 

Every year just before midnight on September 15, Mexicans shout the grito, honoring an impulsive and crucial action that was the catalyst for the country's bloody struggle for independence from Spain.

On September 25 of 1821, the Mexican state won its independence from the Spanish crown.

Viva Mexico!

September 16th is similar to July Fourth in the United States, and usually features rodeos, parades, bullfights, dances and grand feasts.

But September 15th or the eve of Independence Day is when the celebration really begins, as crowds gather in every village and town throughout Mexico. The pueblos are decorated with red, white and green flags and colorful flowers, and music fills the air.

As the clock begins to strike eleven, silence falls over the citizens as mayors across the land step forward to ring the symbolic liberty bell and give the "Grito de Delores", met with the crowds’ response of "Viva Mexico".

Cozumel is no different. Independence day activities are centered around the municipal palace and always include a carnival and amusement rides, family-run food stands featuring local cuisine, and plenty of cerveza. The main stage features local talent and a wide variety of folkloric dance groups who keep the crowd entertained right up until 11:00P.M.

El Grito and the traditional ringing of the liberty bell are followed by a spectacular fireworks display accompanied by patriotic music.

*FOOT NOTE: SEPTEMBER 15TH OR SEPTEMBER 16TH?

Just as Mexican president Porfirio Diaz was responsible for establishing Cinco de Mayo as a national holiday, he also had a hand in changing traditions associated with September 16, Mexico’s independence day.

On the night of September 15, 1910, special envoys stood on the illuminated balconies of the National Palace and watched the fiesta of all fiestas on the Mexican civil calendar.

At 11:00 P.M. President Porfirio Díaz stood on the balcony of the National Palace and rang that very same bell Hidalgo had rung in Dolores. He shouted “Viva Mexico”, "Long Live the Heroes of the Nation!" "Long Live the Republic!"

Below him, a hundred thousand citizens covering Mexico City’s majestic zócalo, shouted in reply "¡VIVA!

Why did the president deliver this grito on the evening of September 15th instead of waiting until the dawn of September 16th, when it all really began?

As it turns out it was just a matter of priorities and scheduling. September 15th was the Day of Saint Porfirio and was also the birthday of President Porfirio Díaz.

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