Día de la Independencia, Mexican Independence Day, falls on every 16 September. It commemorates the “Cry of Dolores” of 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo cried out against Spanish oppression and in favour of Mexican independence in the small Mexican town of Dolores.
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Miguel Hidalgo’s cry was made late on 15 September, but the celebrations mainly fall on the 16th. Miguel Hidalgo was a priest in the Mexican state of Guanajuato who became a leader in the Mexican Independence Movement. He made his speech to a group of people who gathered in his church after ringing the church bells to signal the congregants to assemble.
No one knows for sure precisely what Hidalgo said that day, but he cited various acts of Spanish oppression and urged the people to rise up in revolt. They did so, and the first battle, the Siege of Guanajuato, occurred only four days later. Hidalgo himself was executed by the Spanish in 1811, and a declaration of independence did not come until 28 September 1821. Nonetheless, his stirring speech is seen as the spark that lit the patriotic fire that eventually culminated in Mexican independence.
The main ceremony each year takes place on 15 September when the sitting Mexican president rings a bell at his palace in Mexico City, appears on the balcony before roaring crowds of people, and shouts out a patriotic cry in the tradition of the Cry of Dolores. He names various heroes of the war for independence and finishes with three consecutive shouts of “Viva Mexico!” He then rings the bell once more, waves the flag of Mexico, and waits for the cheering crowds to sing the national anthem that is played by a military band.
On the following morning of 16 September, there is a military parade through Mexico City. It begins in Constitution Plaza, passes by a statue and memorial to Miguel Hidalgo, and ends on the main street of Mexico City, called “Paseo de la Reforma”.