El Grito every 16th of September is the Mexican Fiesta par excellence! On this day Mexicans all over the world celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule. Many confuse Mexico’s Independence with Cinco de Mayo or Mexico’s Revolution but they are entirely different wars.
Why is Mexico’s Independence Day called El Grito?
El Grito is the cry for Independence. This ritual recreates the moment in which Father Hidalgo, gathered his followers in Dolores Guanajuato. The President of Mexio always deliver the grito in Mexico City’s zócalo. It is in this plaza, atop Palacio Nacional, the National Palace -a beautiful colonial building where the President’s offices are located-, that the original bell rung by Hidalgo is hung. And this is the bell that is rung every 16th of September.
This 2022 Mexico commemorates 222 years of Independence from Spanish rule and 122 years of its Revolution that began in 1910 and toppled dictator Porfirio Diaz. Indigenous peoples were the first to inhabit what is now known as Mexico. They founded great civilizations such as the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, Maya, Toltec, and of course the most powerful of all, the Aztec Empire.
After Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, the Spaniards carried out expeditions to find gold and riches from these faraway lands. In 1521, about 500 Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico, headed by an ambitious man: Hernán Cortés. At this time, the Aztecs had built a great empire that ruled over all of Mesoamérica. So the Spaniards decided to direct their attacks toward them.
Did you know Hernan Cortes is one of the greatest villains in Mexican Culture?
The indigenous nations that were under the Aztec rule were tired of the physical and economic hardships imposed upon them by this empire. This circumstance made them think that by helping the Conquerors defeat the Aztecs, they would be better off. So they decided to aid the Spaniards.
This is how the Conquest of what is now Mexico began.
On the 13th of August 1521, Cuauhtémoc, the last Aztec emperor was captured. The indigenous allies of the Spaniards raided Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire.
They didn’t know it at the time, but they had been liberated from one oppressor and fallen into the hands of a much more powerful authoritarian.
This was the beginning of three centuries of Spanish rule. The new colony was named La Nueva España, New Spain.
The years that followed were devastating. The conquerors brought with them diseases unknown to the natives. The epidemics that broke out and the merciless workload imposed upon the natives dramatically diminished the Indian population. Approximately 20 million Indians were inhabiting this territory before the Conquest, and after just one century of Spanish rule (genocide), there were only 1 million left!