September 16th is Mexico’s July 4th. Independence Day.
Beyond the nomenclature, the meaning and the story of the day is very different in Mexico than in the U.S.
I’d enjoyed two prior Independence Day celebrations here in Chapala. Both were very festive, with a party atmosphere and lots of noise. Fireworks, which are quite legal here, would start in the morning and run deep into the evening and every the next morning. It’s the one time of year I’m a little thankful that I’m hard of hearing. While some expats complain vociferously about the noise, I peacefully sleep though almost all of it.
However, given the pandemic, Independence Day was quite quiet here, literally.
But I did get a wake-up call about it.
My Spanish teacher introduced me to a long-standing tradition here in Mexico. That is, the Grito speech, by the President of Mexico.
On the night of September 15, the President appears on the balcony of the Presidential Palace at the Zocalo in Mexico City (the huge square) and replicates the speech of Miguel Hildalgo y Costilla, a priest who rallied Mexicans to throw off Spanish rule. You can read about the tradition here.
Grito in Spanish means shout. As my teacher explained, the speech was given in 1810 and the priest had to shout to be heard by a large crowd.
The 16th is now a holiday and the locals were out in numbers to celebrate.
The malecon was abuzz.
Kites were flying.
Kids were playing.
A beautiful day shown for us all.
Happy times in Chapala.