El Grito: This is what the priest Hidalgo shouted

There are no myths but traditions that modify their form of celebration. Its purpose is to promote national identity and seek examples of patriotism. On September 15, the Grito de Independencia ceremony is held in Mexico and in various parts of the world.

El Grito: This is what the priest Hidalgo shouted
In honor of the Grito de Independencia, Mexico City will host a series of free concerts. Credit: Dra. Claudia Sheinbaum

Miguel Hidalgo stood in front of the parish church with the people gathered in the atrium and told them: "Gentlemen, we are lost; the French have already conquered Spain and they are coming to conquer us. The oppression is over, the tributes are over, the taxes are over, and I will pay half a peso to those who accompany me on foot and one peso a day to those who accompany me on horseback".

According to the first testimonies gathered, this was the original cry or call, now modified and named Independence. The changes in the harangue, as well as in the celebration, have been transformed to become a tradition with a less lavish origin, explained Alfredo Avila Rueda, a researcher at the Institute of Historical Research.

The first one had a few words. With time, the set of events that took place in the journey of the priest Hidalgo from Dolores to San Miguel was added.

When he arrived at the sanctuary of Atotonilco, he took the banner of Guadalupe and that is when he said, "Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe! When he arrived at San Miguel, he added: "Long live San Miguel Arcángel! The researcher says that there is no viva México! because they were in Guanajuato and the whole country was not seen as Mexico, hence the name. The researcher says the commemoration of the beginning of the Independence of Mexico is celebrated on September 15.

As time went by and after the Mexican Revolution, the list of "vivas" began to grow. With Porfirio Diaz, it was long live Hidalgo and Allende; later they added Morelos, Vicente Guerrero, and even Madero, democracy, women, and men.

Beginning with Andrés Quintana Roo, on national holidays, a civic speech of approximately half an hour was delivered, recalling the heroic deed, and at the end came the Viva México! Sometime later, and up to the present day, the speech was eliminated and only the "vivas" remained.

Maximilian of Habsburg, who wanted to become Mexicanized, resorted to a type of patriotic ritual and decided to go to the town of Dolores and have the bell tolled. Porfirio Diaz had the bell moved from Dolores to Mexico City, where the tradition and ritual were strengthened.

It is also said that Porfirio Díaz changed the celebration to September 15 for his birthday. There are testimonies that since 1824, people began to celebrate the night before the 16th. This has a lot to do with a Hispanic tradition called the "verbenas de la víspera", where the celebration begins the night before.

Another interesting story is that of the Pípila since there is no testimony that there is an account of the existence of a character who put on china and set fire to the door of the alhóndiga, which does not mean that this is a myth, but rather that it is a revolutionary tradition.

During the French Revolution, it was said that a baker, at the time of the storming of the Bastille, carried a burning torch and set fire to the door. That kind of tradition was in the world, and it was Carlos María de Bustamante who spread the popular story. He wrote that after 10 years, it is not a reliable testimony because there are other versions like that in the world.

What did happen is that there were several people, like El Pípila, who were mine workers and joined Miguel Hidalgo. They were angry because the richest families were locked up in the alhóndiga to protect themselves and left the city to its fate, which caused discontent. This is the origin of the tradition, and its objective is to highlight and look for examples of patriotism.

There are no historical "Fathers of the Fatherland". It is also a tradition that has been built over time. No one is the "Father of the Nation" because of what he does, but because of what others think of him.

Undoubtedly, Agustin de Iturbide was the one who achieved Independence, although he was an ambitious and corrupt military man. Besides, he was not an admirable person in several aspects, just like Miguel Hidalgo, who at the moment he took up arms "lost the floor", calling himself "His Serene Highness." Therefore, the first thing he did was to free the prisoners and order them to assassinate the Spaniards, so they were not people to be admired.

These traditions and celebrations, which take place in Mexico and other parts of the world, are pedagogical resources to generate national identities and foster nationalism; at the same time, they can have immediate intentions. The historian concludes that if the situation is not going well in a government, one can appeal to nationalism to reaffirm the president as the leader of the Mexican nation.