September is the most patriotic month of the year in Mexico. Flags fly everywhere, even in the most unlikely places, and everyone is gearing up for the long weekend that starts today.
These are the reasons:
13 September: Día de los Niños Heroes, or Day of the Heroic Children. The story goes that 6 boy soldiers (teenagers rather than children) bravely defended the country from marauding US forces that were trying to take over Chapultepec Castle, on 13 September 1847. One of the boys, Juan Escutia, wrapped himself in a handy Mexican flag and jumped from the roof to keep it falling into the enemy’s hands. The details are sketchy but they are revered and that’s a good enough reason to acknowledge them as heroes, as they defended their country to the death.
15 September: it is a tradition to start celebrating the independence of Mexico the night before so people tend to go to the squares in towns and villages all over the country. In Mexico City the massive Zocalo is the setting for the President to ring the bell and shout Viva México a lot, in front of what is always a very enthusiastic crowd who respond with the same. It is called “el grito” (the shout) and is extremely important. The President emerges on the balcony of the National Palace and shouts out the names of national heroes with a “Viva” in front of every name, the crowd repeats “Viva” and at the end you get “Viva México” three times and the crowd goes crazy. It is the beginning of the celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain, which takes place, without fail, every year.
16 September: Mexican Independence Day. In the early hours of the 16th, 1810, father Hidalgo rang the bell of his church in the small town of Dolores and announced the beginning of the revolt. It is known as the “Grito de la Independencia” (Cry of Independence). It is also known as the “Grito de Dolores”. The town of Dolores is now known as Dolores Hidalgo. So what the President will do on Sunday night is essentially copy what happened 200 years ago. The 16th is always a national holiday, everyone needs to recover from the celebrations the night before. Plus we are expected to witness the military parade which the government organises in the Zocalo of Mexico City.
This year will be challenging as the striking teachers are camping in the Zocalo, we will see what happens.
Anyway, that’s the reason everything is red, white and green at the moment, including the chiles en nogada that I wrote about before, and the decorations are up.
It’s always a good weekend for me as it’s my birthday today… I’ve taken the day off and soon I will be going to Tepoztlán with F who is treating me to a fabulous Swedish massage followed by lunch!