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Life around the world

Happy Birthday, Chile!

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When you cast your thoughts to the continent of Latin America what images are conjured up in your mind’s eye? Often we’ll think of a Samba spectacle complete with extravagant, brightly coloured costumes, or an exotic beach scene framed by coconut-filled palm trees. Indeed, some Latin America countries live up to these stereotypes, but what Chile had in store for me when I moved here just last month was something all together quite different.

Chile is known for being the most “European” amongst its Latin American counterparts, but the extent of what we learn about this long, thin nation in school is minimal to say the least. History classes tend to have a heavy focus on the Russian Tsars or the French Revolution, but Chile has never featured very high on the history-lesson hit list. So, Chile, what’s your story? I asked myself as a touched down in Santiago to be greeted by a temperature of just 5ºC (yes, it’s pretty chilly in Chile right now – perhaps one of the first things you wouldn’t have expected of a “tropical” Latin American country!)

My answer was to come in the shape of the “Fiesta Patrias” – a week of non-stop parties in aide of the anniversary of Chile’s independence, or, simply, Chile’s birthday celebrations! Chile signed for its independence on September 18th 1810 in the “Plaza de Armas” in the city of Concepción, which is coincidently where I am currently living and thus the perfect place from which to learn all about these historic celebrations.

These days, to celebrate the anniversary of the break from Spanish rule the Chileans go all out and the events are an expression of Chilean culture at its finest. Schools, universities and many businesses close for the week-long celebrations and up and down the country there are a host of “fondas” where traditional Chilean food and beverage are consumed; the star of the show being the delicious empanada (meat stuffed pastry). “Asados” (barbeques) are also strongly associated with these fun fiestas and meat sales rocket during this period to exceed 50 million Chilean Pesos!

In honour of the 18th there are a number of activities to help work off the extra calories consumed during these tasty traditional events. Chileans don traditional dress and dance “Cueca”, the national dance. Male and female dancers stomp, clap and wave their handkerchiefs, but, interestingly, never touch while always retaining eye-contact. Finally, a huge military parade takes place in the Parque O’Higgins in Santiago, overseen by the President of Chile, which showcases the glories of the Chilean Armed Forces and marks the grand finale of these wonderful celebrations. 

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How does your country celebrate its 'birthday' or other historic events? 


Elsa007's picture
Elsa007 28 April, 2016 - 05:16

Why do we celebrate "birthday" every year?
I think it's not just because it's the day we celebrate the birth, or rather it's the process we reflect ourselves year by year. Our life history is often compared to a tree ring, which grows containing its childhood.
As we get older, we cover our past; we can't change ourselves, actually. It's the sun, the wind, the rain, the snow....etc. might change ourselves. All we can do is to cultivate ourselves embracing just the way we are! :))
"Cultura animi philosophia est."-Cicero

Happy Birthday, Chile!

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justcricketforme's picture
justcricketforme 20 October, 2013 - 12:04

We celebrate 'birthday'. In the morningthe flag of Pakistan is roseand the nationalanthem is sung. We have a special event and the Convention Center where all the important people and the normal people gather for it. We celebrate the birthdays and eath anniversiries of our leaders. We also celebrate a Defence Day on 6th September. We give tribute to our heroeswho died in that war. Army, Airforce and Navy, all did well and we won the war. We also celebrate Lahore Resolutionat the 23rd of March when the resolution for Pakistan was passed on at the Iqbal Park. This resolution is also called 'Pakistan Resolution.

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 25 September, 2013 - 19:45

We don't celebrate a "birthday", but we have one very, very important they, which is celebrated every year on February 15. It's the day when first Constitution of Serbia was made and it had a very big importance because according to that Constitution, Serbs were not under the Ottoman rule anymore and they got more rights. We don't go to school on that day and there's a kind of celebration and we sing our national anthem. I think it's very important for every country to celebrate all important events and to maintain its'culture and history.

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