Fiestas Patrias: Piñera kicks off Chile’s national holidays

SANTIAGO – With the popular Chilean dance known as the cueca, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera inaugurated this Friday the national festivities of the country at the Parque O’Higgins.

In the inaugural event, the president said that “few countries in the world celebrate with as much enthusiasm, with as much vocation, with as much affection, the national holidays as we do, the Chileans”.

Decreeing three holidays, extending the celebration to five days, the leader added that “we are going to have five days of celebration and I hope that we all celebrate as it should, that we can enjoy the wonders that our country puts at our disposal.”

For this reason, and to celebrate Chile’s 208 years of independence, Chileans take advantage of the 18th, to go from Santiago to neighboring regions and meet their loved ones.

Every year, the Republic of Chile celebrates its Fiestas Patrias. The two-day festivity begins annually on September 18 to commemorate the proclamation of the First Governing Body of 1810, and the beginning of the Chilean independence process.

It is capped with the “Day of the Glories of the Army” (Día de las Glorias del Ejército) on September 19, which marks the anniversary of the first-ever military parade in the history of Chile. Army Day was formally established in 1915.

These two days are celebrated jointly with parades and street parties which incorporate Chilean traditions such as dancing the Cueca and the Chilean Rodeo, rounded off by a huge military parade on the 19th in the Parque O’Higgins.

This South American country officially declared independence from Spain on February 12, 1818, and was recognized on April 25, 1844. However, by tradition, Chileans celebrate Independence Day on September 18, the day in 1810 when the First Government Junta was established and the war of independence began.

Chile borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Its capital and largest city is Santiago de Chile, or simply Santiago. The city, which was founded in 1541, has been the country’s capital since colonial times. The Mapocho River is lined by parks such as Parque Forestal, where the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is located.

The Fiestas Patrias are a way of celebrating Chilean traditions, but also the start of a new spring.

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