Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Every year on September 16, Mexicans celebrate the first and most significant episode of their country's history - Independence from Spain.
But the celebrations really begin on September 15th at 11:00 pm with the traditional El Grito observance. While many have heard the conventional cry of "Viva México!" how many know the story behind Mexico's Cry of Independence?
A Brief History
Grito means "shout" or "cry," and it commemorates the manner in which Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest from the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato, publicly initiated what became the Mexican independence movement, in 1810.
Just before midnight on September 15th, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo gathered the people in front of the church on the plaza. Ordering the church bells to be rung, Hidalgo cried out to the native Mexicans and the lower classes of mixed blood urging them to stand up and take back the lands stolen from their forefathers and ending with the now-famous Grito: "Long Live Mexico!" This was the beginning of the Independence War in Mexico, which lasted for more than 10 years.
Ever since then, people have gathered together in town squares all over the country each year on September 15th to witness a dramatization of the bell tolling and the call to arms in which the president, governor or mayor impersonates Miguel Hidalgo, who is known as the "Father of Independence."
As the clock begins to strike eleven, silence falls over the citizens as the mayor steps forward to ring the symbolic liberty bell and give the "Grito de Dolores," met by the crowds' response of "Viva Mexico!" and "Viva la independencia!" in an emotion-packed traditional annual ritual.
Here in Puerto Vallarta, the ceremony will take place in front of the municipal government building in the Plaza Principal, downtown.
At 11:00 pm the Presidente Municipal of Puerto Vallarta, Mayor Arturo Dávalos Peña, will deliver "El Grito," reenacting the historic cry for independence. The ceremony reaches the high point when the crowd joins in proudly shouting out the names of the heroes of Mexico's Independence.
When the grito ceremony ends, there will be traditional Mexican dancers and musical groups on the Malecón, and the sky will light up with multi-colored fireworks that shower our hearts with the pride of knowing that Mexico is a free and independent nation.Friday, September 16th is the National Holiday, with civic ceremonies, parades and parties going on all over town. Click HERE for a list of Independence Day events in Puerto Vallarta.