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September 8 2004

Mexican Independence Day

In 1807, French forces occupied Spain and imprisoned King Ferdinand VII. Confusion spread throughout Mexico, and some criollos (Mexican-born Spaniards) plotted to seize the colony's government. One of these men was Miguel Hidalgo, a priest who is now one of the foremost figures in Hispanic history.

Hidalgo and the criollos planned to avoid military confrontation by convincing criollo army officers to sever their allegiance to the French-serving gachupines. By claiming loyalty to King Ferdinand, the criollos aimed to establish Mexico as an independent nation within Ferdinand's Spanish empire. The gachupines who claimed authority under Bonaparte's rule would be driven out and order restored to the nation.

Unfortunately, Hidalgo's conspiracy was discovered by Spanish authorities, and he had no choice but to begin the rebellion. Late on the night of September 15, 1810, he called Indians and mestizos to his church in the town of Dolores and made a speech known as the Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores), in which he called for a rebellion that would be fought until its successful conclusion in 1821.

This major holiday in Mexico is celebrated every September 16 starting at 11 p.m. in every city and town in Mexico. The President opens the ceremonies by ringing the historic liberty bell that Father Hidalgo once rang to rouse the people. Then he gives the "El Grito," shouting, "Viva Mexico!" The crowd echoes back, re-establishing the tradition that has been solemnly followed ever year since its inception.

After the last "Viva Mexico" is cried, the president waves the flag, rings the bell again and starts singing the national Anthem.

The following day, there is a civic ceremony and a military parade. There are also rodeos, bullfights and horseback performances. The people feast and recall Hidalgo's speeches, wreathing his commemorative statues with flowers and garlands. In cities outside of Mexico with large Mexican populations, festivities include traditional dances, singers and of course, mariachis, and the Grito is often performed by a local Mexican dignitary.

Fiesta Idaho

The Hispanic Cultural Center of Idaho will celebrate Mexican Independence Day and the Fifth Annual Hispanic Folk Life Festival starting Friday, September 10. Events are offered both inside the Center's beautiful facility and across the street at Lakeview Park, some for a small admission fee and many others compliments of the HCCI.

Friday, September 10: Live Latin music from Grupo Karibe, ethnic food and drinks for 21 and older with ID. 8 p.m.-midnight, $10, HCCI, 315 Stampede Dr., Nampa.

Saturday, September 11: Live entertainment, children's activities, food and drinks from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The Nampa chapter of Healthy Families presents "Operation Yellow Ribbon" from 3-6 p.m. mariachi music from 6-8 p.m. Poetry slam with live hip-hop music, DJ, food and drinks from 8-11 p.m. Poetry and hip-hop session $10, 16 and up, HCCI, 315 Stampede Dr., Nampa; all other events FREE, open to all ages, Lakeview Park, Nampa.

Sunday, September 12: Menudo cook-off, live entertainment, children's crafts, activities and food. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., FREE, Lakeview Park, Nampa.

Boise State Independence Day Celebration

Thursday, September 16: A fiesta to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day featuring information booths, crafts, snacks and entertainment. Booth space is free; to sign up call 426-1449. 11 a.m.-2 p.m., FREE, Boise State Student Union Patio. :