Interpretation

     There is much cultural significance regarding to Chile's Independence Day.  It is a national celebration in which different freedoms and achievements are distinguished.  Freedom can be defined as “the condition of being free of restraints” and “the capacity to exercise choice; free will,” according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.   This celebration expresses the country's pride and patriotism - love of and devotion to one's country (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 2000).  Without having suffered through various political, economical, and other relating difficulties, Chile would not be the country it is today.  The celebration of Independence Day is one way in which the people can demonstrate their gratitude and appreciation for the freedoms that they have.

     When observing this celebration, an onlooker can see that the solemn memories of the past and deeply held convictions about the spirit of Chile are mixed with the components of a magnificent party.   Like the celebration of the independence of the United States from Britain, costumes, equipment, and dancing are part of an old tradition to celebrate freedom from another ruling country (Shactman 1986: 10, 23, 40).

     Through pride and identity, patriotism is apparent and rejoiced.  This is one way in which Chileans define themselves (Nussbaum 1996: 3-4).  Due to the political issues that this country has survived, there is a sense of bonding among the people and a looking forward to better times.  This celebration has allowed the people of Chile to reflect on the difficult times they have had and to celebrate their basic human rights: rights to freedom of speech and religion, due process and equal protection under the law, education and economic security, and equal representation in a genuinely democratic politics (Nussbaum 1996: 66).

     Independence Day lets the Chilean people remember the troubles with wanting freedom of religion from past years.  Despite Roman Catholicism being the official religion, they are able to believe whichever belief they wish due to the liberty they have established (Hudson 1994: 120).  Important rites of passage, such as identity of a child being recognized at the time of baptism and First Communion, are secure and protected from the imposition of beliefs of other dominating countries (Gall 1998: 105).

     This celebration can also be interpreted as a way in which the Chileans celebrate the overcoming of political and economical dilemmas.  They have a horrendous past of wavering politics and economical depressions in which their democracy has finally been able to prevail over.  There has been economic chaos and failure of leader policies (Sigmund 1977: 283).  It experienced a transition from traditionalism to modernity, hierarchy to equality, and from elite rule to democracy.   With efficiency, equity, and liberty achieved and reinforced together, hope for a genuine democracy and authentic social justice can be restored (Sigmund 1977: 291-292).  Independence helped structure the economy and this celebration is a way to rejoice in that stability (The Structure of the Economy: 1).  These changes are reasons to celebrate the leveling of politics in Chile today.

     Independence Day also demonstrates the basic elements of celebrations.  For example, the costumes and playful interactions amongst the people can represent the sacra found in religious celebrations.  “Sacra may represent both law and freedom” and costumes may “represent the playful recombination of cultural traits,” as described by Turner.  It is similar to a seasonal festival in that it is performed in the center of the city and the people renew themselves by showing respect for the source of the festal joy – in this case, Bernardo O'Higgins (Figure 3).  An example of sacra is shown by heroes such as him (Turner 1982).   The people of Chile can use this festival as a way to remember their ancestors, celebrate the highlights and transitions of the present Chile, and look forward to the future of their country (Kilgour: 1).

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