Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fiestas Patrias & El Grito - Week 38

Happy Mexican Independence Day!  September 16th marked the day and people celebrated all over the world.  Of course, many celebrated all weekend long!  There were celebrations and cultural expressions of Mexico in varied form all over, especially here in Southern California.  Often a busy time for the folklorico dancer.  Ironically for me, however, I had the weekend off!

Along with the holiday, comes its traditions and terminology.  This year, more so than in the past, I noticed many advertisements for "Fiestas Patrias" celebrations.  It has probably always been announced like that in the past, I just haven't paid much attention.  This year, it caught my eye and I found myself asking, "What exactly is this "Fiestas Patrias" they speak of?"  So a hunt ensued and in just one Google search, I instantly became a 30 second expert on the subject.  Here is what I discovered.

The term "Fiestas Patrias", according to Wikipedia, is "a Spanish phrase meaning "Patriotic Holidays" or "National Holidays"."  The term is used in Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Guatemala. Wikipedia goes on to state, "Fiestas Patrias in Mexico originated in the 19th century and are observed today as five public holidays."  The five public holidays are Aniversario de la Constitucion, Natalicio de Benito Juarez, Dia del Trabajo, Grito de Delores y Aniversario de la Independencia, and the Aniversario de la Revelucion.

Now on week 19, I wrote a post called "Cinco de Mayo".  Many Americans often confuse Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence Day and celebrate it heavily.  In fact, Wikipedia states this in the definition of Fiestas Patrias, "Contrary to common misconception in the U.S., Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's "Independence Day", but rather commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  In contrast to Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo is observed mostly at a local level (Puebla State) and is a minor Bank Holiday in the rest of Mexico.  Many labor unions have negotiated to have the day off, however, since its proximity to Labor Day (May 1) often allows an extended five day weekend or two consecutive three day weekends."

Now you may have noticed that Grito de Delores and Aniversario de la Independencia are coupled together.  So I wanted some clarification and discovered this explanation of the two.  Thank you Wikipedia!  What would I do without you?  "Grito de Delores (on the evening of September 15) and Aniversario de la Independencia (September 16) commemorate Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla's Grito de Delores - on September 16, 1810, in the village of Delores, near Guanajuanto.  Hidalgo called for the end of Spanish rule in Mexico.  On October 18, 1825, the Republic of Mexico officially declared September 16 it's National Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia).  Mexican Independence Day, also referred to as Dieciseis de Septiembre, is celebrated from the evening of September 15 with a re-creation of the Grito de Delores by all executive office-holders (from the President of the Republic down to municipal presidents) and lasts through the night."

As I mentioned earlier, there were celebrations all over California, including one big one in downtown Los Angeles.  I have heard the reading/proclamation of the El Grito in the past, including at a performance last year at Plaza Mexico in Lynwood.  My curiosity moved me to explore more about the El Grito and here is what I found.  Again, Wikipedia explains, "The Grito de Delores ("Cry of Delores" [also referred to as "Scream of Delores" and "The Cry Of Pain"]), was uttered from the small town of Delores, near Guanajuanto, on September 16, 1810.  It is the event that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence.  The "Grito" was the pronunciamento of the Mexican War Of Independence by Migual Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest.  Since October 1825, the anniversary of the event is celebrated as Mexican Independence Day."

The exact text of this most famous of all Mexican speeches is not known, and a wide variety of “reconstructed” versions have been published.  It is said that there are as many variations as there are historians to reproduce them.  There's a good possibility you won't hear the same exact version twice. Here is a brief segment of the speech I found, that is common:

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

Here are a few YouTube video links I found on El Grito de Delores.  These videos are in Spanish as I didn't find anything available in English.  If you don't speak or understand Spanish, like me, you'll still enjoy the pictures!  Check them out:



Now before we move on, I want to clarify that there is a difference between the Grito de Delores and a Grito Mexicano or Mexican gritos that are commonly heard at parties and Mexican themed events. In fact, quite often you will hear folklorico dancers belt them out during the course of a show, along with Spanish cheers - amongst my favorite is "Viva Los Gueros!"  Wikipedia even speaks of these Mexican gritos and states this:

"Grito Mexicano (Mexican Scream), or simply Grito, is a part of Mexican culture. 
It is similar to the yahoo or yeehaw of the American cowboy during a hoedown, except with added trills and an onomatopoeia closer to "aaah" or "aaaayyyyeeee".  In Mexico's culture it's usually performed by a singer after singing a patriotic song, or a very excited member of a crowd, it is done immediately prior to the popular Mexican war cry: "Viva Mexico, cabrones!" (Long live Mexico, [word not included]!).  Or for a toast, in its family friendly version, "Viva Mexico, Senores" (Long Live Mexico, gentlemen). the first sound is typically held as long as possible, leaving enough breath for a trailing set of trills.  The Grito is sometimes used as part of the officially celebratory remembrance of Mexican Independence Day, as in the Grito de Delores.  In some non-formal settings, the Grito is belted at parties and friends or family celebrations.  The normal position for the yell to be inserted (either by the singers themselves or the listening audience) is at a musical interlude or bridge or after the first few notes of a familiar song."

Gritos in folklorico are often varied and not as dramatic as these in this YouTube video:  
Since we're at it already, let's get a definition of the other four Fiestas Patrias holidays listed above. Here is the definitions of the other holidays as explained by, you guessed it, Wikipedia!

Aniversario de la Constitucion:  This day (English:  Anniversary of the Constitution) commemorates the Constitution of 1917, promulgated after the Mexican Revolution on February 5.  Article 74 of the Mexican labor law (Ley Federal del Trabajo) provides that the first Monday of February (regardless of date) will be an official holiday in Mexico.  This was a modification of the law made in 2005, effective in 2006; before, it was the February 5th regardless of the day.

Natalicio de Benito Juarez:  This day (English:  Birth of Benito Juarez) commemorates President Benito Juarez's birthday on March 21, 1806.  Juarez is popularly regarded as an exemplary politician because of his liberal policies that, among other things, defined the traditionally strict separation of the church and the Mexican state.  Article 74 of the Mexican labor law (Ley Federal del Trabajo) provides that the third Monday of march (regardless the date) will be N official holiday of Mexico.  As with Constitution Day, the holiday was originally celebrated every year on the same date (March 21), but the federal labor law was modified in 2005 so the holiday is always celebrated on a Monday.
Dia del Trabajo:  Dia del Trabajo (English: Labor Day) commemorates the Mexican workers' union movements on May 1 - specifically, the 1906 Cananea, Sonora, and the 1907 Rio Blanco, Veracruz, labor unrest and repression.
Aniversario de la Revolucion:  This day commemorates the Mexican Revolution which started on November 20, 1910 when Francisco I. Madero planned an uprising against dictator Porfirio Diaz's 31-year-long iron rule.  Article 74 of the Mexican labor law (Ley Federal del Trabajo) provides that the third Monday of November (regardless the date) will be an official holiday in Mexico.  This was a modification of the law made in 2005, effective since 2006; before then, it was November 20 regardless of the day, and all schools gave extended holidays if the day was a Tuesday or Thursday. Although November 20 is the official day, the uprising started on different days in different parts of the country.

Wow, wow, wow!  That is a lot of history and information for one week isn't it?  Overload!  But now you know!  Perhaps you already did!  Nonetheless, I hope you learned something from it.

On week 35 I wrote a blog called "Ideas For Folklorico".  In the blog I presented an idea for pop star Madonna for her next Los Angeles tour visit.  Funny how the recent holiday inspired Madonna MX on Facebook to post several photos of the icon in Mexican attire.  Perhaps, my idea wasn't as original as I thought.  Although the pictures appear possibly photoshopped.  Or perhaps her marketing and publicity people have made sure she has engaged her Mexican audience.  You decide!  Take a look
Regardless, I still home to receive a call from the Material Girl any day now so we can get started on my idea!  Sorry Madonna if I missed your call, I've been busy practicing for the Fair!  Don't be shy to leave a message, I'll call you back!

In other news, the blog reached an audience of over 5000 pageviews this week!  That's amazing!  A great big thank you to everyone who has shared the blog with others.  I want to welcome the students from Roy Lazano's Ballet Folklorico de Texas and Ballet Folklorico at St. Edward's University in Austin Texas to the blog.  I appreciate your email and feedback this week and encourage other readers to contact me as well.  Please join my Facebook page - One Big Wedo (Guero) and "like" it. You can also recommend the page to your friends by sending them an "invite".  I've reached 150 people already, lets add some more!

In closing, it never ceases to amaze me how life has a way of working things out.  As many of you following the blog know, I write this posts on my iPhone.  The added time it takes to do so, has led to some time management issues and late publishing.  Well, problem resolved!  I started carpooling and now I have about an hour or so wait after work to write while I wait for my ride.  That's a good thing. Starbucks has become my new after work writing workshop!  Coffee + iPhone + Wedo = a blog for your reading enjoyment and entertainment.  Lucky you!

That's all for this week everyone!  See you at the fair!  Wedo out!


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Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.

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