El Grito: What Is It And What Does It Mean?

09/15/2012 10:21 am ET

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:

¡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:

El Grito
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