Mérida, Yucatán — Mexico celebrates its 205th year of independence on Wednesday, Sept. 16, but the occasion is celebrated tonight on the Plaza Grande, with music and fireworks and el grito. Street closings will affect traffic while tens of thousands of citizens congregate by the Governor’s Palace.
To the uninitiated, el grito (which translates to scream or cry) is perhaps the most striking Independence Day tradition. Partly solemn, partly joyous, it’s a distinctly Mexican display of patriotism.
At 11 p.m., people gather beneath the Governor’s Palace balcony and invoke the memory of the country’s historic leaders and heroes. The crowd yells VIVA! in response to each line recited by by the governor:
¡Mexicanos! ¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
Every school child in Mexico knows about the events of Sept. 16, 1810, when Father Miguel Hidalgo cried out to his parish in the small town of Dolores for Mexicans to rise up to fight colonial rule. That event marked the beginning of Mexico’s war of independence.