Just what is el grito? And what does it have to do with Mexico's independence?

Every year, millions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans and fellow revelers from around the world gather late the night before Mexican Independence Day (September 16) to join a massive, synchronized call-and-response that dates back to 1910, the one hundredth anniversary of Mexican Independence.

As the President of Mexico -- or a reasonable, local facsimile -- calls out to the memory of individual leaders of the revolution and to Mexico itself, the crowd yells VIVA! after each one. But why?

On September 16, 1810, criollo Father Miguel Hidalgo cried out to his parish in the small town of Dolores. He cried out against French colonial rule, he cried out against the gachupín elite, he cried out for Mexicans to rise up and take charge of their destiny. His grito eventually rallied tens of thousands of people, mostly very poor Indians, to fight and change Mexico forever.

Ok, with that cleared up, what next?
Simply put, get ready!

Find a local spot to go to, preferably one with a campana, have a drink or two to get into the right mood, and learn these words:

¡Mexicanos!
¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!
¡Víva Hidalgo!
¡Viva Morelos!
¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!
¡Viva Allende!
¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!
¡Viva la independencia nacional!
¡Viva México!
¡Viva México!
¡Viva México!

After each line, yell VIVA! with gusto.
You've can now cross el grito off of your bucket list.

Check out the slideshow to learn a bit more about each line of el grito:

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  • ¡Mexicanos!

    Fans of the Mexican Olympic team celebrate after Mexico won the Gold in the London 2012 Olympic Games Men's football event, in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, on August 11, 2012. (HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/GettyImages)

  • ¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!

    A military policeman salutes a military parade carrying the remains of the heroes of Mexico's independence, exhumed from the Angel of Independence monument and taken to the Castle of Chapultepec at Paseo de la Reforma on May 30, 2010 in Mexico City, Mexico. As part of the country's commemoration of the Bicentennial of Independence and the Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, Mexico held a ceremony with military honors to mark the exhumation of national heroes Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama, José María Morelos, Mariano Matamoros, Mariano Jiménez, Javier Mina, Vicente Guerrero, Leona Vicario, Andres Quintana Roo, Nicolás Bravo and Guadalupe Victoria. The remains were to be displayed at the National Palace for the the exhibition 'Mexico 200 years, the country under construction?', returning to the mausoleum at the Angel of Independence monument the following year. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Jam Media/LatinContent/Getty Images)

  • ¡Víva Hidalgo!

    Statue of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (8 May 1753 - 30 July 1811), a priest and the leader of the Mexican War of Independence. <blockquote>On September 16, 1810, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criollo_people" target="_hplink"><em>criollo</em></a> Father Miguel Hidalgo cried out to his parish in the small town of Dolores. He cried out against French colonial rule, he cried out against the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gachupines" target="_hplink"><em>gachupín</em></a> elite, he cried out for Mexicans to rise up and take charge of their destiny. His <em>grito</em> eventually rallied tens of thousands of people, mostly very poor Indians, to fight and change Mexico forever.</blockquote> Hidalgo, and three other revolutionary leaders -- Ignacio Allende, Juan Aldama and José Mariano Jimenez -- were all executed as traitors in 1811 and decapitated, with their heads displayed for ten years in small cages at the four corners of Guanajuato's old granary, the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, to discourage other revolutionaries. There they remained until Mexico's independence.

  • ¡Viva Morelos!

    The patriot Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon (1765-1815), engraving by Claudio Linati, 1826. Mexico, 19th century. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images) José María Morelos y Pavón (1765 - 1815) was also a Roman Catholic priest who became a revolutionary fighter, assuming the role of leader following the 1811 death of Hidalgo. Morelos was himself captured by the Spanish and executed in 1815. Source: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Mar%C3%ADa_Morelos_y_Pav%C3%B3n">Wikipedia</a>

  • ¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!

    A billboard of lights depicts the portrait of Mexican independence hero Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez over a street at Zócalo Square in Mexico City, 13 September 2007, ahead of celebrations for the 197th anniversary of Mexico's Independence. (ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images) Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez or La Corregidora (1773 - 1829) was the insurgent wife of the Querétaro magistrate for the Spanish colonial government. Having developed sympathy for the oppressed poor and Indians of Mexico, Ortiz de Domínguez was a leading figure of the independence movement who remained true to its ideals even as the revolution led to the Mexican Empire. Source: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josefa_Ortiz_de_Dom%C3%ADnguez">Wikipedia</a>

  • ¡Viva Allende!

    Posthumous portrait of Ignacio Allende by José Inés Tovilla; oil on canvas Source <a href="http://www.mnh.inah.gob.mx/index_2.html">National Museum of History</a>. A captain in the Spanish Army, Ignacio Allende (1769 – 1811), became a sympathizer who joined the conspiracy being organized at Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez's home. His military background led to his leadership role with the rebellion, before being captured and executed for treason. Allende, and three other revolutionary leaders -- Miguel Hidalgo, Juan Aldama and José Mariano Jimenez -- were all executed as traitors in 1811 and decapitated, with their heads displayed for ten years in small cages at the four corners of Guanajuato's old granary, the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, to discourage other revolutionaries. There they remained until Mexico's independence. Source: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignacio_Allende">Wikipedia</a>

  • ¡Vivan Aldama...

    Juan Aldama (1774 - 1811) was a captain in the Queen's militia who he participated in secret pro-independence meetings with Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez. As the authorities learned of the conspiracy, Aldama fled to Dolores where he witnessed the original Grito and formed part of the original revolutionary leadership. Aldama, and three other revolutionary leaders -- Miguel Hidalgo, Ignacio Allende and José Mariano Jimenez -- were all executed as traitors in 1811 and decapitated, with their heads displayed for ten years in small cages at the four corners of Guanajuato's old granary, the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, to discourage other revolutionaries. There they remained until Mexico's independence. <em>CORRECTION: This slide has been updated to say it was Aldama's head, not body, which was shown to the public.</em> Source: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Aldama">Wikipedia</a>

  • y Matamoros!

    Mariano Matamoros (1770 – 1814) was a Roman Catholic priest who became one of Morelos' top commanders, leading various victories before suffering major losses at the Battle of Valladolid. Soon after, he was captured, tried for treason and executed by firing squad. Source: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariano_Matamoros">Wikipedia</a>

  • ¡Viva la independencia nacional!

    Members of the Mexican armed forces participate in a theatrical rendition of the history of Mexico at the Military Academy in Mexico City,Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

  • ¡Viva México!

    Gold medallist Gustavo Sanchez Martinez of Mexico poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Freestyle - S4 final on day 10 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Aquatics Centre on September 8, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

  • ¡VIVA México!

    Mariachi musicians play in honor of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, on her day in Garibaldi square in Mexico City. Mexico's Mariachi culture was declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO on Sept. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

  • ¡VIVA MEXICO!

    The Mexico city Mayor's building is illuminated on September 10, 2012 for Inpendence celebrations at the main square (Zocalo) of the Mexican capital. Mexico will celebrate its 202nd Independence anniversary on September 15th. OMAR TORRES/AFP/GettyImages

(h/t Remezcla)