July 2, 2020

How Do Other Countries Celebrate their Independence?

It’s a strange time to celebrate anything, but many of us are looking forward to family time and fireworks this weekend. What a surprise it is to discover these traditions aren’t specific to just one country. They’re a common part of Independence Day festivities around the world!

We may live in different nations, but we all find joy in the spectacle of fireworks, the flair of a parade and the taste of a barbecue lunch. These shared celebrations help us discover how similar our interests are, and how much we all have in common.

So, how do other countries celebrate independence?

Canada

Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, on Canada Day in 2017.

Canadians celebrate Canada Day on July 1. The celebrations look a lot like Independence Day celebrations in the United States: parades, fireworks, national ceremonies and live music take place in towns and cities across the provinces. U.S. families traveling in Canada at the time hardly notice the difference!

Fun Fact: Canada Day isn’t a celebration of total independence. This day commemorates the unification of Canada under a federal government on July 1, 1867. Not until 1982 did Canada become fully independent from Britain!

Costa Rica

The Municipal Band of Acosta, Costa Rica, performs in an Independence Day parade. Photo: Prayitno, Flickr.

Costa Rica’s Independence Day falls on September 15, commemorating the day they gained independence from Spain in 1821. As part of the fun, Costa Ricans wear traditional dress and perform dances in the street parades.

Costa Rican children with face paint and colorful clothing walk in an Independence Day parade. Photo: Bruce Thomson, Flickr.

One big tradition is the crafting of faroles, or lanterns. Kids have fun crafting these colorful lanterns and decorating them with patriotic symbols and stickers. On the evening of September 14, families gather to parade their lanterns through the streets.

Fun Fact: Independence Day celebrations begin on September 14, when the Torch of Freedom arrives in Cartago, Costa Rica. This symbolic torch represents Central American’s freedom from colonial rule. The torch’s journey begins on September 9, when Guatemalans light it and students carry it by foot through Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Belize

Marchers in an Independence Day parade in Placencia, 2018. Photo: hat3m, Flickr.

Belize’s Independence Day is September 21, but any Belizean will tell you one day isn’t enough to celebrate. That’s why Belize partakes in September Celebrations, a series of patriotic festivities taking place throughout the month. Here are a few of the celebrations:

  • Belikin Beer Bash. September Celebrations start off with a street party lasting from Sept. 1-3 in Belize City. This festival offers tons of food, music, and of course, beer.
  • The Expo. The Expo Belize Market Place in Belize City is one of the largest events in the country. Over 15,000 citizens annually attend to participate in shopping, eating, dancing and singing.
  • Parades, Concerts and Carnival! On Independence Day itself, parades and concerts take place throughout the country’s large and small towns alike. That’s not to mention Belize City’s Carnival, which draws hundreds of performers and thousands of spectators every year.

Fun Fact: Though the country’s history goes back centuries, Belize didn’t become fully independent from Guatemala until 1981.

Peru

A military parade on Independence Day morning in Cuzco, Peru. Photo: young shanahan, Flickr.

Sunrise in Peru, July 28. Cannon fire rumbles. It’s Peru’s Independence Day, but the festivities are already underway! The evening before, Peruvians fill the streets to play folk and Creole music in public parks and plazas. Fireworks begin at midnight!

Peru’s independence celebrations are known as the Fiestas Patrias (National Holidays). Across the country, the streets and plazas come alive with parades, food carts, dance and music. In downtown Lima you can catch the Gran Corso, a massive parade with hundreds of people dressed in colorful costumes, accompanied by adrenaline-pounding drum lines.

Fun Fact: The party continues into July 29, which is set aside to honor the Armed Forces and National Police of Peru with a military parade marched down the country’s decorated main streets.

Israel

People wave Israeli flags on Israel’s 72nd Independence Day.

In addition to the ceremonies and parades, Israel’s Independence Day is a lively countrywide affair for barbecued meats and veggies, fireworks and street parties. The most well-known of the day’s events is the International Bible Quiz, held in Jerusalem. This competition on the text of the Hebrew Bible brings in high school students from around the world.

Fun Fact: The holiday commemorates the establishment of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, but the holiday doesn’t always occur on May 14. It can fall anytime between April 15 and May 15, depending on the Hebrew calendar.

Australia

Melbourne’s People’s March celebrates the city’s diverse backgrounds and communities. Photo: Ersu, Flickr.

Australia’s holiday for family gatherings, grilling, fireworks and parties is not a celebration for their Independence Day, but it’s close. Australia Day on January 26 commemorates the first British flag flown at Sydney Cove in 1788, when they established Australia as a penal colony.

Walking around the streets of Australian cities, you would never know the difference. Sydney hosts a day’s worth of boat races, and Perth puts on an enormous fireworks show. Melbourne’s People’s March brings together people of different communities and groups to appreciate Australian diversity and unity.

Fun Fact: In Australia, summer takes place in January. The weather is perfect for outdoor celebrations!

What is your favorite Independence Day celebration from around the world? Let us know at chris@familyadventures.com, or chat with us on Facebook or Instagram.

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