Sunday, September 15, 2013

El Grito!


¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Víva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
¡Viva México! 
¡Viva México! 
¡Viva México!

Thus goes "El Grito," the call that goes out on September 16th at 11:00 pm in towns and cities across Mexico to cap the Dia de Independencia. First delivered in 1810 by Miguel Hidalgo in the town of Dolores, it is traditionally a call-and-respond, with the President (or town mayor) calling out the names of revolutionary heroes and the crowd responding with a loud "Viva!"  In Mexico City, this takes place at the city center (the zocalo) and is delivered by the President in front of a massive crowd, accompanied by the ringing of a huge bell and followed by an equally impressive fireworks show. 

My husband and I only learned of this tradition a short time ago, and decided we'd love to see it first hand from Mexico City. However, by the time we learned of it, it was too late to book tickets or a hotel room in Mexico City anywhere near the zocalo. So instead - we got to take part in much smaller gritos that gave us a taste of the excitement. Yes, a very small taste, but we got the idea.

The first was last weekend in our neighborhood when the park near our house was transformed again into a party stage decked out in red, white and green bunting with decorated tables. Our neighbors handed out patriotically-colored beaded necklaces to the women and kerchiefs to the men. Like the Mother's Day celebration earlier this year, everyone gathered for food, music and dancing, this time to a live mariachi band that played until at least 02:00. Live mariachi has its place and time, let me say. In Bogota live mariachi in the apartment directly beneath ours in a sound-magnifying brick building = not so much fun. In a community park, under stars and waving flags, surrounded by your dancing neighbors and enjoying the warm evening breezes = yes. Granted, we left shortly after midnight and the party was still in full swing, but we were able to sleep courtesy of our white-noise producing air purifier machine in the bedroom. 

Community park getting dressed up for the party

Our neighbors' balcony carrying the colors

Party decorations: Mariachi dress

The spread! Traditional dishes served up by our kerchief-clad neighbors

Not exactly the President, but rather the homeowners board delivering el grito.

Patriotism under twinkling lights

The second grito was yesterday in the small northern California town where I'm staying visiting my father and sister. My husband stayed behind in Juarez, so I went down to the town park in my sister's town alone (which has a majority Mexican population) to see their version. There were booths selling tamales, tacos, elotes and all sorts of fruity drinks and a small (non-Mariachi) band playing. Instead of waiting until 11 pm, el grito was delivered at about 6:30 by the public affairs officer from the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco. She waved the Mexican flag as she called out the patriots names, and the crowd called back the obligatory "Viva!" after each name.  It was a far more subdued crowd than in our Juarez neighborhood, maybe because most of the families present have lived in the US for many years, their kids being born in the US, so it felt a bit more like a celebration of "things we used to do" to keep up the tradition. It was fun, nonetheless. However, no matter that I spoke in Spanish to the ladies selling the tamales, they always answered back in English. Ah well.

The color guard delivers the flag... the Public Affairs Officer from the Mexican Consulate for the call. 

Next year we hope to take in the event from Mexico City itself. We'd better make hotel reservations about now. See if you can catch it on the news tonight wherever you might be.

No comments:

Post a Comment