September – Mes de la Patria

In the early hours of September 15, 1810, father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, accompanied by several conspirators –Allende, Aldama, Jimenez and Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, began an armed uprising aimed at gaining independence from Spain. At 11:30 on the night of September 15, Father Hidalgo rang the bell of his little town church and called his fellow countrymen to arms to fight for liberty. This was the beginning of the Independence War, which lasted 10 years.

The events that took place on that night in 1810 are commemorated today by the Grito de Independencia (Independence Call), which takes place every 15th day of September at precisely 11:30pm in every Zócalo (main plaza) in every city and every town across Mexico, and is celebrated by Mexicans all over the world.

Streets, houses, buildings and cars are decorated everywhere in the country. On every street corner there are vendors selling flags, balloons, sombreros and rehiletes -shuttlecock, all with the green, white and red, the National Colors.

Flags wave from practically every house and building.

Lighted decorations are set up in every city, the most spectacular being those of the Zócalo, main plaza, in Mexico City. This main plaza of every town and city is the place where the great 16 De Septiembre celebrations take place. People of all ages come to this fiesta, to take part in the collective gaiety!

Food is always a very important part of these festivities. Literarily hundreds of stands are set up several days before and offer the traditional antojitos, most aptly described as a variety of finger foods, Mexican candies, and punch or ponche. Ponche, is a drink made of fruits that are in season: guayabas, sugarcane, raisins and apples, and such a delicious aroma!

During September, Mes de la Patria, “the month of our nation” as it is called in Mexico, restaurants serve traditional Mexican dishes, such as Mole Poblano, Chiles en Nogada, Guacamole and chips.

During the evening of September 15, people start gathering in the zócalo. Many people walk around dressed in typical Mexican dress: men as Charros and women as China Poblanas, or indigenous dresses. Those who don’t own a typical outfit, at least dress find something to wear in the colors of the flag.

Live Mariachi Music bands play to the delight of all present.

The euphoria is collective and all are prepared to shout, yell and make as much noise as possible with fake trumpets, noisemakers and whistles!

As the evening advances, the plaza gradually fills with more and more people; suddenly there is practically no room to move. Excitement and euphoria reach a crescendo at the culminating moment when a government official arrives in the zócalo, at 11:00 P.M. to give the grito or cry of Independence. This ritual recreates the moment in which Father Hidalgo, gathered his followers in Dolores, Guanajuato.

It is customary for Mexico’s President to deliver the grito in Mexico City’s zócalo. It is in this plaza, atop Palacio Nacional, the National Palace -a beautiful colonial building where the President’s offices are located-, that the original bell rung by Hidalgo is placed. And this is the bell that is rung every 16th of September.

The ceremony reaches the high point when the crowd joins in proudly shouting out the names of the heroes of our Independence, to end with the exciting VIVA MÉXICO!

When the grito ceremony ends, the sky lights up with multicolored rockets that shower the hearts of all Mexicans with the pride of knowing that they are a free and independent nation.

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