Mexican Independence Day
Mexico's independence was recognized by the Spanish viceroy in 1821 after a decade-long War of Independence. Since the late 19th century, a re-enactment has become traditional: the President of Mexico rings Hidalgo's bell (now at the National Palace on the Zócalo in Mexico City) and repeats Hidalgo's words "¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Viva Fernando VII! ¡Abajo el mal gobierno!" every year at 11:00 P.M. on the night of September 15. On the following day, September 16, a military parade starts in the Zócalo and ends at Paseo de la Reforma. Cinco de Mayo, or May 5, is commonly confused with Mexican Independence Day; in fact, this day commemorates the Battle of Puebla between Mexican and French forces in 1862.
The Grito de Dolores
The Grito de Dolores was the call for insurrection against the authorities of Mexico given by Miguel Hidalgo on September 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores, near Guanajuato. The government of the Empire, shattered by Napoleon's invasion of Spain, was replaced by "Juntas" in both Spain and the Americas in order to replace the authority of the king Fernando VII, held as hostage by Napoleon in Bayonne, France. Miguel Hidalgo rang the church bell to gather his congregation, then called for insurrection and ended by calling out, "¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Viva Fernando VII! ¡Abajo el mal gobierno!" (Long live Our lady of Guadalupe and the king Fernando VII! Down with the bad government!). Shortly after this speech Hidalgo gathered an army and tried to take over the government but he was eventually defeated. As his struggle against the established authorities unfolded, he started to demand the full independence of the Spanish American colonies, and the exile or arrest of all Spaniards in Mexico.