Teach September 16! El Grito de Dolores, Mexican independence, and the Zapatistas

Zapatista students preparing for September 16 Independence Day activities in Oventic, Chiapas, Mexico

Zapatista students preparing for September 16 Independence Day activities in Oventic, Chiapas, Mexico

Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain every September 16 with a wildly popular national holiday featuring massive displays of flag-waving patriotism and great parties. Zapatista schools and communities in Chiapas wholeheartedly participate in these national patriotic activities.

Click here to see a short (38 second) video of Zapatista elementary students celebrating El Grito / Mexican independence by marching, waving their patriotic handicrafts, and cheering in the autonomous center of Oventic, Chiapas.

September 16 is the anniversary of “El Grito de Dolores, a speech made in 1810 by the catholic priest, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, in the town of Dolores located near Guanajuato in the center of Mexico.  Hidalgo’s speech urged a “resistance” to the “bad government” and helped ignite a process which finally led to the “Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire” on September 28, 1821.

Today in early September, colorful red, white and green displays of Mexican flags in every size and material imaginable, cover houses, offices, and schools throughout Mexico. Schoolchildren learn about Father Hidalgo’s grito (shout), often painting pictures

Sign at a Zapatista municipality named for the famous Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo whose Grito de Dolores began the struggle for independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810.

Sign at a Zapatista municipality named for the famous Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo whose Grito de Dolores began the struggle for independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810.

and performing plays about the historic events leading up to Mexico’s independence from Spain.  Marches, parties, and family feasts are the order of the day.

In Chiapas, where the Zapatista communities now regularly echo Hidalgo’s historic words of “bad government” and “resistance”, schoolchildren also draw pictures of Miguel Hidalgo, celebrate his famous grito, organize parties, and make crafts and foods featuring the colors of the Mexican flag.

On the evening of September 15 fireworks displays paint the skies above Mexican towns in the three colors of the flag; especially in the capital where the president himself reenacts the historic “Grito de Dolores” before hundreds of thousands of flag-waving citizens in the Zocalo, the central plaza of Mexico City.  Millions of Mexicans from every political, religious, and social sector, also watch the president’s “grito” on television on the evening of September 15.   The patriotic holiday celebrations last late into the night and continue through September 16 when everything grinds to a halt throughout Mexico.

Mexican communities around the world also celebrate the brave actions of Father Miguel Hidalgo on September 16, and practically every Mexican restaurant on the planet decks itself out with Mexican flags and holds an Independence Day feast.

Zapatista students marching and waving Mexican flags at an autonomous Middle school in Chiapas to celebrate September 16, Mexican Independence Day.

Zapatista students marching and waving Mexican flags at an autonomous Middle school in Chiapas to celebrate September 16, Mexican Independence Day.

Perhaps we can all joyfully find ways to share this revolutionary holiday with our families and neighbors wherever we live.  Certainly, teachers, especially those whose classes include Mexican students, should acknowledge and teach about this important date in history.

Click here and see below for a few teaching and learning suggestions related to Mexican Independence Day, September 16!

Resources for teaching about El Grito and Mexican Independence Day

Morelos-independenceInfographic: This straightforward visual gives a background to “El Grito” and details of the main protagonists in the drive for independence.
http://visual.ly/mexican-independence-day

Video: Four-minute video explaining the life of Miguel Hidalgo.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOEqeHjpvWI

Cloze: Short gap-fill text on the importance of September 16th.
http://www.enchantedlearning.com/history/mexico/independence/cloze.shtml

Lesson Plan: Complete Mexican Independence Day lesson plan, suitable for 3-5th grades.
http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/byrnes-celebrations/mid.html

Latino/Spanish Heritage Resource Pack: Excellent older resource from Teaching for Change.
http://www.teachingforchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/download-in-pdf.pdf

Classroom Activities: A variety of classroom activities to celebrate September 16th.
http://www.brighthubeducation.com/elementary-school-activities/122665-celebrate-mexican-independence-day/

Word Search: Key words related to Mexican independence.
http://www.esolcourses.com/content/topics/festivals/mexican-independence-day/word-search.html

Children’s Book (corrido that can be used as a poem) and Lesson Plan:
http://www.read4free.net/pdf/EG01e1v1p4ctPIsUSRhEN.pdf

http://www.read4free.net/pdf/EG01LessonPlan.pdf

Online Puzzle of Mexican Flag: Fun activity to encourage digital literacy and cognitive skills.
http://www.jigzone.com/puzzles/1712004174C?z=6&m=A9C9000F

Reading: More in-depth historical background about September 16
http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/independenceinmexico/p/Mexicos-Independence-Day-September-16.htm