The 4th of July is right around the corner and we’re looking forward to firing up the grill, lounging on the beach and drinking freshly brewed iced tea out of mason jars! Our traditions, whether it be watching fireworks or being a spectator at a hot dog eating contest, are definitely fun and festive. It’s also important that we remember what the day truly symbolizes! Our freedom, our land of the free and home of the brave, is something that none of us should take for granted. Sure, we love donning red, white and blue every year but let’s take a look at how other countries celebrate their independence!
Despite the occasional confusion, Cinco de Mayo is not the day of independence for Mexico. The actual date is September 16—Grito de Dolores—the date that marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence. The celebration that ensues in Mexico City is unlike any other celebration. On the night of September 15 at 11 PM the President of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace, recites patriotic chants and declares “Viva México!” while waving the flag of Mexico from the balcony. Hundreds of thousands of spectators travel to the National Palace to watch and celebrate. Throughout the next day, there are parades, concerts and parties where everyone comes together to celebrate.
India celebrates their day of Independence on August 15th, commemorating the end of the three century long British rule over India in 1947. In the days leading up to the holiday, major government buildings and facilities also participate by stringing lights on the buildings—signifying and paying respect to the importance of the day. The most popular event is the hoisting of the Indian flag at Red Fort in Delhi where the Prime Minister discusses the past year’s achievements and what to look ahead to in the future. Most people spend the day of observance with family and friends, decked out in their nations colors. India’s unique tradition is flying kites which signifies freedom!
On August 17, Indonesia knows how to have fun while celebrating their independence! Marking the day that the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was read is the raising of the flag at the National Palace with ceremonies led by the president. After all respects have been paid, the fun begins! There are two traditions in Indonesia that have me wanting to hop on a plane and be there to experience firsthand. The women are involved in cooking competitions to see who can make the best krupuk (shrimp crackers) and a game called Panjat Pinang. Palm tree trunks are placed in public areas, greased up with oil and prizes of all types are placed at the top. Win a prize if you can shimmy up to the top and pick it out yourself.
Every year on July 14, France celebrates Bastille Day—a day that honors the first major event of the French Revolution. The main celebration is the Military parade that takes place on the Champs-Elysées, starting at the Arc de Triomphe and continuing across Paris. The celebration wouldn’t be complete without a firework display that lights up the sky, a true patriotic display that can be enjoyed from under the Eiffel Tower with friends and loved ones. One very unique tradition France has is the Firemen’s Ball, fire stations open their doors for the public to come in for dancing and drinking!
Iceland celebrates its own day of independence, Icelandic National Day, on June 17. The traditional ceremonies include parades with brass bands and mounted Icelandic horses. After the parade, a speech is given by the Fjallkonan (woman of the mountain) dressed head to toe in Skautbúningur (traditional Icelandic costume), who also reads a poem. She is there to represent the nature and spirit of Iceland. After the formal events have come to a close, the family fun begins. The day ends with music, candy and balloons are released into the sky.
We certainly love to celebrate, how about you? What are some of your Independence Day traditions?