¡Hola! A short time ago, I explained what Independence Day is not and it is NOT Cinco de Mayo. We just had Independence Day, starting the night of September 15th and running through the day of September 16th. So first a little history:
On the night of September 15th, the Grito de Dolores (cry of Dolores, a small town in Mexico) is said by the president and leaders in all the towns and villages of Mexico. That “cry” was issued originally in 1810 by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, and it was a call to begin a rebellion against the Spanish to gain independence. His army was a populist army, composed of the indigenous and mestizo people.
The rebellion was supposed to have started in December. Conspirators had been having meetings, and one of these people was Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez. Josefa had been born to Spanish parents, but sympathized with the plight of those who were considered of lower caste, that is anyone who had not been born in Spain or did not have pure Spanish blood. Her group of conspirators was betrayed, and she was warned by her husband (who had been ordered to find and arrest the conspirators). He locked her in her room, but she notified one of her colleagues by stomping on the floor and told him of the impending arrests and he warned the others. It was because of this betrayal that the revolution could not wait until December, and so it began with the cry for freedom on September 15, 1810.
There were many heroes of the revolution, and unfortunately Father Hidalgo would not live to see the independence of Mexico. He was caught and executed in January 1811, but others such as Morelos, Guerrero and Matamoros took his place to continue the rebellion. It was said that after the rebellion started, Father Hidalgo regretted the amount of bloodshed that resulted.
In 1821 a constitutional monarchy was formed per the Treaty of Córdoba and 18 months later the insurgents Antonio López de Santa Anna and Guadalupe Victoria ousted the emperor and established the first Mexican republic, twelve years after the Grito de Dolores.
You can read more about the history here:
It is an interesting read, and I highly recommend it.
Because it is still the rainy season, and it has been raining almost every night, I was concerned that the Independence Day fiesta would not take place. I heard that happened last year, but this year Mother Nature took pity on us and it did not rain until partway into the final event on the 16th. That event consisted of men standing on each others’ shoulders attempting to climb a greased bamboo pole which was as high as a telephone pole. That is a daunting enough task in dry weather and near impossible in the rain; some of the men were taking off their shirts trying to wipe off enough of the grease to get a good grip. At the top of the pole were bags of prizes, and with the rain coming down I left and went home, so I do not know if they stopped the event or if anyone actually succeeded.
The event right before this was something that I believe is also done in the United States – people chasing and trying to catch a greased live pig. Personally I am disturbed by this, and so I couldn’t watch it as the poor pig seemed terrified. I also felt the same way about a bull fight, and so would not attend the one in Villa de Alvarez when I went there several months ago. To me it is just torturing the bull – sticking pointed spears in it until it finally dies. I much prefer our event at Cofradía’s Plaza del Toros, which is more of a rodeo.
Anyway, the main celebration was on the 15th – and I was awakened at 6 o’clock in the morning by fireworks. Either someone was practicing setting them off, or they just couldn’t wait to start celebrating.
Around 8pm, there was a stage set up in the jardín and mariachis were performing. I thought I had seen Doña Meche’s husband Lorenzo dressed in a mariachi outfit, but figured it must be someone who looked like him. However – during one of their sets, Lorenzo took the stage and sang several songs and there was singing and dancing.
I’m not sure exactly what time it happened, but during the evening, the Grita was delivered, children in gray and white outfits marched in with the flag, the national anthem was sung and the names of the heroes of the war of independence were read out. And, of course, there was a grand fireworks display.
Actually, there were two fireworks displays. One is the one that everybody in the U.S. is familiar with – you shoot or lob fireworks up to the sky, and then there is a loud noise and bursts of color. The other one was the toro – an effigy of a bull with a frame on which are attached fireworks. The fireworks are lit and a man runs around the jardín carrying the bull while sparks fly everywhere. I honestly don’t know if part of the job description is having burns on your hands, arms and head, but I wouldn’t be surprised.
Apparently, at 6am the next morning, there were fireworks again. However, between getting to sleep late, having had cinnamon and Rompope to drink, and it having been a chilly night so I had closed the windows in my room, I didn’t hear a thing…
Around 8:30am there was a parade down the street, around the jardín and through a few more streets before they came to a stop. The reina, or queen, was sitting on the hood of one of the cars as it went through the streets, and even though it was going slowly, I’m not sure how secure she felt sitting there, and having to wave and smile. Actually, there were 4 queens total for this 2-day celebration. Three young women who were crowned from different festivals throughout the year, and an older woman who might have been a former queen or something like a Queen Mother – I’m not sure, but I was told that she is one of the dignataries’ mother.
Of course, there were more speeches, lots of food and drink and games for the kids, including sack races, eating contests and one contest with rings suspended from ribbons and boys rode their bicycles past them, trying to impale one of the rings with a stick. In the beginning, there was only one bicycle, so the boys took turns, and eventually someone found a second bicycle, thereby cutting the total time of the contest in half.
So all in all it was an eventful day and a half, and now I will post some pictures and a video. I apologize ahead of time for the quality, and you can surely find much better pictures from a Google search. I should have played around with my new camera more before the events, but what’s done is done and in the future the photo portion of my photo-journal should be improving bit by bit.
So – take care, all, until next time!