Mexico Celebrates 200 Years of Independence, by Hope Maglich, Back2Back Mexico Staff

For weeks, the streets of Monterrey have shimmered red, white, and green as vendors have displayed their flags, t-shirts, streamers, and noisemakers on the sides of the roads.  Monterrey has been a bustle of activity with concerts, plays, and movies about the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence from Spain and the centennial celebration of the Mexican revolution.  September 15th, 2010 was quite a day in Mexico!

For Back2Back, our festivities started at Casa Hogar Douglas. Staff, children, caretakers, and two American mission groups gathered in the Douglas courtyard dressed in red, white, and green, ready for the ceremony and celebration! Several of the older children, dressed in uniform, marched the Mexican flag into the center of the courtyard for the anthem to be sung. Then Daniela, from Douglas, led the children in the student promise to the flag. Together as a community we sang the state of Nuevo Leon anthem and waited for the climax of it all, “El Grito”.

Traditionally, the 15th of September is referred to as “El Grito” (the cry).  Two hundred years ago in the village of Dolores (near Mexico City) on September 15th at 11:00pm a priest named Miguel Hidalgo gave the shout to the people to take up arms and fight for Mexico’s independence.  This started the 11 years of war with Spain for what is now the country of Mexico.

In Independence Day celebrations, traditionally the mayor or governor of the town will give the cry to the people just as Hidalgo did many years ago.  At Casa Hogar Douglas, one of our teens and a member of the Hope Education Program, Leo, who were dressed in traditional “charro” costume, gave the historic cry to the children, Back2Back staff, and group members participating with us. All around echoed the response to each phrase Leo spoke, “Viva Mexico, viva Mexico, viva Mexico!”

With excitement high, Casa Hogar Douglas director, Pastor Javiar, stood up and spoke about how as believers we are called “the city of God” and how the greatest independence we have is that of freedom and liberty that is found in Christ. Together as a community, we thanked God for the freedom and grace he has showered on us.

The rest of the evening was celebrated with a Mexican buffet and a carnival for the children! Little red, white, and green bodies were everywhere as they waited for their turn to play games, eat tacos, and win prizes!

Later that night, we put on a special event for our teenagers in the Hope Education Program. We celebrated their country’s heritage with them with a decorated palapa, virgin pina coladas, and the events in downtown Mexico City projected on the big screen.  Together at 11:00pm, we watched President Calderon give the grito shout from the Zocalo and the amazing festivities happening in Mexico City. We also had the fun of shooting off our own fireworks on campus! The teens loved it, as did the staff! We finished with salsa dancing into the night.

It was amazing to experience Mexico’s bicentennial here in the country and even more exciting to celebrate with the children and teens such an important part of their heritage. Viva Mexico!