Grito de la Independencia is a cry from the heart and history of Mexico that stirs up the dirt and dust on the streets of Cancun the 15th of September. In 2010, it will be exactly 200 years ago that the Mexicans started their indepence war against Spain on the eve of 16th of September 1810 in a church chapel in Dolores Hidalgo, 270km (170 miles) north of Mexico City. This year, the cries ‘Viva Mexico!’ and ‘Viva la independencia!’will be louder than ever before.
The war was led by Miguel Hidalgo Costilla, a Creole Catholic priest at the chapel. In the early 19th century, Father Hidalgo was involved in tertulias, small literary societies of upper-class Mexicans, gathering to drink hot chocolate, eat pastry and discuss politics. Hidalgo used these to express liberal ideas.
On the 15th of September, he and a number of other armed men set eighty inmates free from prison. The next morning, he called mass, which was attended by about 300, and uttered the first Grito de la Independencia, also known as Grito de Dolores: ‘Mexicanos, Viva Mexico!’ He urged the people of his parish to leave their houses and join him in the War for Indepence. Only eleven years later, on 27th of September 1821, did the Mexicans win this war, under the leadership of the conservative Agustin de iturbide.
Every year, the Mexicans commemorate the night that Hidalgo gathered courage to start what led to his own execution on 30 July 1811, but also to their independence. All night long, you will hear tequila-fuelled echos of his Grito while all sorts of midnight festivities will be going on in downtown Cancun. The following day, there will be singing mariachis and dancing parades such as the Mexican Armada Parade, a grand military parade through central Cancun which attracts thousands of locals and tourists every year.
Though you should make sure you don’t miss out on these two days if you’re booking flights to Cancun in September, the city will host a festival called Viva Mexico throughout the rest of the month as well, which will give your holiday a unique flavour. There will be art exhibitions, folk music and traditional dancing, film screenings, workshops, demonstrations and all sorts of other street entertainment.