Independence Day in Chile

Figure 1: Map of Chile
Copyright@2004 Highbury Columbus Travel Publishing Ltd.



     This website is about the celebration of Independence Day in Chile, South America.  This celebration is very prominent in their culture and represents many significant concepts and struggles, such as political freedom, that the people have overcome.  Within this site, I will discuss a brief history of Chile and its region, as well as the various influences this celebration has on the nation.  Patriotism and the freedoms of religion, politics, and economics are just a few of the main emphases of this national celebration.



Figure 2: Landscape of Chile



Date accessed: 9/17/04.


Figure 3: Bernardo O'Higgins, Chilean military leader


FULL/GCASTRO/g.22.0.jpg>.Date accessed:




      Every country throughout the world has celebrations specifically associated with its culture and values.  Often these celebrations are for religious purposes, freedom from the rule of another nation, or to simply commemorate an important day.  Chile is a South American country that has many festivities and holidays throughout the year.  One of the most important festivals in Chile is the celebration of their Independence Day.  This is a national celebration in which the concepts of freedom are central.  This celebration holds a great deal of cultural significance for the people of Chile; it reinforces the ideas of human rights, religious freedom, political progression, and economical development.


Context of Chile

      Chile is located in South America bordering Argentina to the east and Bolivia and Peru to the north (See Figure 1).  It is approximately 4,000 km (2,485 miles) long and the Andes Mountains run the full length of it.  The climate varies depending on location; from the Atacama desert , snow-clad Andean peaks, to farmlands where fruits are grown and livestock is raised (See Figure 2).  There are roughly 12 million inhabitants in Chile – one fourth are of European decent and the remainder is mainly Mestizo (mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry).  Four million people live in Santiago, the capital (See Figure 1), and approximately 400,000 Mapuche Indians, a group of Araucanians, still live in reservations or reducciones (Gall 1998: 103). 

      Pedro de Valdivia established the first Spanish settlement in Santiago in 1541.   However, conflicts with the Spanish conquerors led the Chilean military leader, Bernardo O'Higgins (See Figure 3), to join forces with José de San Martín of Argentina to free the Chileans from Spanish rule.  In 1818, O'Higgins became the first ruler of the newly independent Republic of Chile.  Today Chile is a democracy with both a senate and house of representatives (Gall 1998: 103).


Origins of Independence Day

     Independence Day is one of the days to commemorate the wars of the 19th century (Gall 1998: 104).  This celebration dates back to September 18, 1810 when Chile first declared independence from Spain; however, it wasn't until February 12, 1818 that it received complete independence (Henderson 1997: 81).  The following day, September 19, the “Day of the Glory of the Armed Forces” is celebrated with a military parade (Gall 1998: 104).  Both of these dates accentuate the importance of Chile's independence.



      There are many observable elements of this celebration.  On September 18, the President of the Republic of Chile addresses the people who have gathered at the Plaza de la Constitución in Santiago.  Folk dancers perform la cueca, Chile's national dance, with the accompaniment of the guitar (See Figure 4).  Huasos, cowboy-farmers, can be recognized by their flat-topped brown or black sombreros, mantas (short capes), scarves, fringed leggings, and high-heeled black boots (Henderson 1997: 81).  Smaller parades are held throughout the country and are followed by rodeos.  This celebration lasts for two days (Holidays: 1).



Figure 4: La cueca, Chile's national dance, is performed at street fesitvals and holiday celebrations.

cue.jpg.<>. Date accessed: 10/06/04.




Prognosis for Independence Day

     This celebration is still very popular and the number of tourists who come to see this festival is increasing.  There are parades, festivities, national food favorites, music, and beverages available.  This is a treasured celebration and the folklore demonstrations of dance, costumes, and legends bring in the crowds of people from near and afar (Hamre 2004).



     Chile's Independence Day is an important day in which the people of Chile can come together and have a new sense of unity and purpose (Hudson 1994: 133).  The celebration gives them a sense of joy, pleasure, spirit, and progression.  Symbolic figures or objects, such as past heroes, represent the message and motive of the occasion (Dorson 1982).  Independence Day celebrates the courage of the Chilean people and reminds everyone that no matter how great the struggle, it important to keep trying for the desired goal (MacMillan 1997: 44).


Internet References Cited

  • chlM0l.gif.<>.Date accessed: 9/17/04.

  • Hamre, Bonnie
    2004   Chile 's Fiestas Patrias. Electronic document,
     ,            accessed November 7, 2004.

              Discussion of popular festivals and customs in Chile.

  • Holidays. Electronic document, ,
    accessed November 16, 2004.

    Discussion of Chile's most important civic holiday, Independence Day.

  • Kilgour, David
              Celebrating Chilean Independence. Electronic document, ,
    accessed November 16, 2004.

              Website is parts of speech given by Secretary of State in remembrance                of Chilean independence.

  • The Structure of the Economy. U. S. Library of Congress. Electronic
              document, ,
              accessed November 16, 2004.

             Focus on Chilean economic issues from past years and other aspects of              Chilean history.


Peer-Reviewed References Cited

  • Dorson, Richard M.
    1982    Material Components in Celebration. In Celebration: Studies in                      Festitvity and Ritual . Victor Turner, ed, pp. 33-57. Smithsonian                          Institution Press, Washington.

  • Gall, Timothy L.
    1998   Chileans. In Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily                      Life Volume 2 – Americas, edited by Timothy L. Gall, pp. 103-107.            Gall Research, Detroit, MI.

  • Henderson, Helen, and S. E. Thompson
    1997   Chile Independence Day. In Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations               of the World Dictionary, edited by Helene Henderson and S. E.               Thompson, pp.81. 2nd Ed. Omnigraphics, Inc., Detroit, MI.

  • Hudson, Rex A.
    1994   The Society and Its Environment. In Chile : a country of study,                   edited by Rex A. Hudson, pp. 120-134. 3 rd Ed., Federal Research              Division, Library of Congress.

  • MacMillan, Dianne M.
    1997    Mexican Independence Day and Cinco de Mayo. Enslow Publishers,             Inc. Springfield, NJ.

  • Nussbaum, Martha C. et al
    1996    For Love of Country. Beacon Press, Boston, MA.

  • Sigmund, Paul E.
    1977    The Overthrow of Allende. University of Pittsburgh Press,                       Pittsburgh, PA.

  • The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.
    2000   Houghton Mifflin Company.

  • Turner, Victor, and Edith Turner
    1982    Religious Celebrations. In Celebration: Studies in Festivity and                    Ritual. Victor Turner, ed, pp. 201-219. Smithsonian Institution                         Press, Washington.


Contact Jim Aimers | ©2004 Miami University