September is Mexico’s mes patrio, or patriotic month, when the nation celebrates El Día de la Independencia in Mexico.and other important dates of patriotic pride.
During the first half of the month, street vendors were everywhere, hawking flags and trinkets that put everyone in the mood for the celebration. The big day, El Día de la Independencia, was celebrated last Monday, September 16th.
Padre Miguel Hidalgo, regarded as the Father of Mexico, launched the war for Mexico’s independence from Spain with the ringing of his church’s bell late in the evening of September 15,1810, calling together the village community of Dolores to take up arms with his rallying cry. Now, each year at 11 p.m. on September 15th, in villages Lakeside and across Mexico, El Grito (the scream) call to arms is re-enacted in lively celebrations.
Within days, the villagers of Dolores joined with the forces of General Ignacio Allende in San Miguel el Grande – now San Miguel de Allende – for the War of Independence, which would last for 10 years. Father Hidalgo was captured in 1811 and tried for treason by Spain’s Mexican Tribunal and then executed with three other revolutionary leaders. His church bell now resides in Mexico City at the National Palace where the President of Mexico presides yearly over the 11 p.m. El Grito festivities.
There is no loss of national pride and patriotic spirit at Lake Chapala. A few proud and spirited events began on September 7th with Ajijic’s Usos y Costumbres del Rebozo, which is a traditional rebozo (shawl) fashion parade on the plaza. In Chapala on September 13th, we commemorated Dia de los Ninos, or Children’s Day, the heroic defense of Chapultepec by young cadets in Mexico City during the U.S. and Mexican War of 1847. And the sky above Ajijic was a sight to see on September 14th with the annual Regata de Globos, a paper hot air balloon extravaganza. For those who enjoy sport fishing, the annual Torneo de Pesca contest on Ajijic’s waterfront was held on September 15th.
On the eve of Independence Day, before celebrations wrapped up around El Grito in Ajijic, youngsters and the young at heart gathered on Ajijic Plaza for juegos tradicionales (traditional games), which included sack races, shinning-up a greased pole and other games for family fun. But the climax happened on September 16th with the Desfile de Independencia, the civic parades in Chapala, Ajijic and Jocotepec. Color guards led platoons of school children in their colorful school uniforms, charros displayed their talented dancing horses and regional marching bands gave spectators lining the streets rousing and patriotic music. And of course, no parade would be complete without patriotic-themed floats.
El Día de la Independencia kicked off what will be continuous civic and religious fiestas at Lakeside over the next five months, so watch for my upcoming monthly blogs and join us for the Good Life at Lake Chapala.