Fiestas Patrias


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Fiestas Patrias

September 18-19
Fiestas Patrias is the great national two-day holiday in Chile celebrating Independence Day, September 18, and Army Day, September 19. Independence Day commemorates the anniversary of Chile's first movement toward independence from Spain on September 18, 1810, when a group of Chilean leaders took over the government. Spain had colonized much of South America since the 16th century. By 1814 Chileans were involved in a war with the Spanish, who were opposed to the new local government. The citizens of Chile finally declared their independence on February 12, 1818.
Army Day is observed with a military parade in Santiago, in which the army, navy, air force, and national police display their weapons, equipment, and uniforms. In the days preceding the holiday, fondas (fairs) pop up throughout Chile, with carnival rides and food stalls.
Fiestas Patrias is a popular time for Chilean rodeos. Huasos or cowboys compete against one another by attempting to pin a calf against the wall of the medialuna or arena with their horse—unlike the calf-roping that takes place at American rodeos—and are awarded points based on which part of the horse is touching the calf.
Because September marks the beginning of spring in Chile, Fiestas Patrias is also a popular occasion for kite flying. A favorite sport is kite fighting, in which people cover the kite strings with small sharp pieces of glass in order to try to cut others' kite strings.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of Chile
1732 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
202-785-1746; fax: 202-887-5579
www.chile-usa.org
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 157
FestWrld: Chile-1998, p. 16
NatlHolWrld-1968, p. 174
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