September 16 is Mexican Independence Day. Throughout that day, I was unsure about how to greet folks. In the US, most will say, Happy 4th! or Happy July 4! I don’t recall folks saying, Happy Independence Day. So, in Mexico, does one say, Feliz Dieciséis! or Feliz Dieciséis de Septiembre! Just to play it safe, I used the standard Buenos Dias and Buenas Tardes.
As you may recall from my previous post, I discussed the famous grito – cry for independence – sung out by the equally famous Father Hildago on September 16, 1810.. The fiesta for Mexican independencia started in San Miguel on September 13 – 2013 and as far as I know has not yet ended given the hour-long fireworks we heard yesterday starting and ending while it was still daylight. This makes the celebrations, to date, lasting seven days. After all, why just celebrate on one day when you can spend an entire week celebrating? This is where we Americans could learn a social lesson- the value of extended festivities. July 4th is all the rage for celebrating our Independence, but why does it start and end on July 4th? I think we should start on July 1 and end somewhere around Bastille day -July 14. We would then be a festive match to the Mexicanos who really know how to party.
Unfortunately Hurricane Ingrid and Hurricane Manuel did much worse than render the celebrations soggy. Their wrath was fatal and disastrous on both the Pacific Coast and the Gulf Coast. While we are safe and snug here in our casa, the lives of folks in many other parts of Mexico have ended tragically or have been utterly ruined by those two storms. But the celebrations continued despite these calamities.
The images do not do justice to the amazing spectacle we witnessed from our rooftop. I used my little waterproof point and shoot given the pouring rain.
For the most part, we experienced much of the festivities that night from the comfort our living room watching the live webcam at the Jardin.
Eventually, we just couldn’t stand it anymore and had to go check out the excitement that was clearly audible from home. We walked up to the Jardin at 11:30 to listen to the famous grito re-enactment. We stood on a bench and watched the revelers, mostly about half our age. Loud music from the lively and entertaining band, Son Latino, lots of dancing, and there we were with our caps and rain gear. The young ones didn’t seem to mind they were drenched. I’m sure alcohol contributed to that indifference.
Scott and I stood there cold stone sober patiently awaiting the grito at midnight. Midnight came and went. We figured that things are rarely on the designated time here in Mexico, so we wait some more. Still, no mayor, no grito. Finally at about 12:15, I asked a guy, Sabe si hay el grito esta noche? (Do you know if there is a cry tonight?) Excuse the poor Spanish, but I do the best I can. He explained that the grito already happened at 11:00. We missed it. Darn. I really wanted to hear that grito. As silly as it seems, I wanted to hear what it sounded like – Hildago’s cry for independence. We sloshed home, went to bed, and spent the next few hours listening to the festivities (that continued until 3:00 AM) and the tap tap tapping of the rain.
We missed this: 11pm on September 15, Mayor Trejo gave the grito of independence from the balcony of Allende’s house.To see a video of the party at El Jardin (34 seconds), click here.
I was back to the Jardin by 10:30 the next day, September 16, to see the parade. Lively, colorful, and interesting, as expected. Children and teens from the local schools represented. I envisioned they spent weeks preparing and practicing their marches. Most amazing is the number of students that drum and play brass instruments. I wonder if that’s not something they begin to learn at a young age. Each school/marching group had what I would call the equivalent to a drum major – young boys and girls calling out the commands. Girls in brilliantly-colored garb on horses, the police and fire, music, horses, food, including Hildago, himself, were all present. Despite the bright colors and festive music, the participants seemed more solemn than usual as evidenced by many of the concentrated faces you’ll see below.
To see a video of bands at the parade (36 seconds), click here.
If you listen closely, you can hear their directions: Alto! Ya! Izquierda!
If you’d like to learn more, there is an recount of the fight for independence in el Atención. Here you will learn about how San Miguel de Allende (formerly San Miguel el Grande) played an important role in Mexico’s independence.
Every September 16 at 6pm, as part of the Mexican Independence festivities, there is a reenactment of the entrance of the insurgents into San Miguel. Allende, Hidalgo and Aldama are represented by actors on horseback, leading a large group of men, women and children dressed as peasants. Armed with stones, sticks, tools and torches, they are ready for battle. This September 16 was no different. The group entered through Insurgentes, turned on Hernández Macías and proceeded down Canal. I was right there, in the pouring rain, waiting and watching, and trying to protect my camera. For some reason, Scott and I have an allergy to umbrellas. After this week, we may have a change of heart.
I departed before the reenactment of Allende et al taking over the Casas Reales at the old Presidencia building. They gave the Grito from the balcony of that building. I missed two gritos!
2013 marks 30 years of this tradition. Having grown up near Gettysburg, I am well conditioned for the reenactment scene. It’s serious business.
Here is an interesting article, Ten Facts About Father Miguel Hildago. To see a video (34 seconds) of the Pretend Insurgents in action click below.
I had a difficult finding quotes from the heroes of Mexican Independence, so here goes:
Action must be taken at once! There is no time to be lost.
Every year thousands of Americans mistakenly refer to Cinco de Mayo as Mexico’s Independence Day.
Among individuals as among nations, the respect to other people’s rights is peace.
Injustice in the end produces independence.
The great revolution in the history of man, past, present and future, is the revolution of those determined to be free.
~John F. Kennedy
*Photos and stuff* Please contact me for permission to use images and text for commercial or private use.
To see Mexico Post #19, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Colonia Condesa, Colonia Coyoacán, y La Casa Azul, click here.
To see Mexico Post #20, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Chapultapec y Centro Historico, click here.
To see Mexico Post #21, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Templo Mayor, click here.
To see Mexico Post #22, Living the Dream in San Miguel de Allende, click here.
To see Mexico Post #23, Viva la Independencia! click here.
To see Mexico Post #24, Adios San Miguel, click here.
To see Mexico Post #25, Valle de Bravo y Teploztlán, click here.
To see Mexico Post #26, Ciudad de Oaxaca, click here.
To see Mexico Post #27, 50 Shades of Green: On the road from Oaxaca to Chiapas, click here.
To see Mexico Post #28, San Cristóbal de las Casas, click here.
To see Mexico Post #29, The Almost Halloween Edition: Dark Mountains, Foggy Cliffs, Witches, Jungles and Shamans, click here.