Mérida, Yucatán — Mexico’s Independence Day is every Sept. 16, but the occasion is welcomed the night before on the Plaza Grande, with music and fireworks and el grito.
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.
Starting around 9 p.m. each Sept. 15, citizens pack the street beneath the governor’s palace balcony and the adjacent Plaza Grande. It’s a real party atmosphere, with live music, almost like New Year’s Eve on Times Square.
Speakers on the balcony invoke the memory of the country’s historic leaders and heroes. By around 11 p.m., 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.
That was the Grito de Dolores, which is connected to this ritual, celebrated in Yucatán and throughout the country.
On the 16th, cities and towns celebrate with parades and dances. Expect loads of fireworks both days.