Dieciséis de Septiembre, the Beginning of the Fight for Mexico/California’s Independence from Spain

A parade in downtown Hollister and celebration at St. Benedicts commemorate the famous speech of Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla which began the battle for independence from Spain.

On Sunday morning the sounds of horns and drumming filled the canyons of downtown Hollister. Horses with their riders, some dancing to the music, big and small of varied colors, women and girls in beautiful dresses and Aztec dancers with their feathered headdresses traveled the streets in celebration of the speech of Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, which is known as "El Grito de Dolores" or, "The Cry of Dolores".


1810, Father Hidalgo, parish priest of Querétaro was working with several others with the intent to rebel against the rule of the Spanish and to achieve independence from Spain for Mexico. Napoleon had conquered Spain, imprisoned King Ferdinand, and placed his own brother on the Spanish throne. Those who wanted independence for Mexico felt this was the opportunity to break free of Spain's grasp.


On September 15, their conspiracy was found out and the Spanish were coming to get Father Hidalgo. On the morning of September 16, he rang the church bells and took to the pulpit in the town of Dolores to give his famous speech, saying that he was going to participate in armed resistance to the tyrannies of Spanish rule and inviting his parishioners to join him.


He partook in major battles,  leading his army of poorly trained combatants, had some success, but was finally defeated and executed. Others picked up the cause. In 1821, Mexico finally gained independence from Spain. California, as part of Mexico, was independent from Spain as well.


Many people believe that Cinco de Mayo is the Mexican Independence Day, but that is the celebration of the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French at the battle of Puebla in 1862. Dieciséis de Septiembre is an older celebration and it is fitting that it should be celebrated here in California.


BenitoLink Staff