Chile Independence Day

The National Day of Chile
The National Day of Chile is celebrated with great fervor across the country on 18 September.

Declaration of Independence
The country of Chile in South America celebrates its National Day on 18 September, though the celebrations can last for days. This date commemorates the beginning of the Chilean War of Independence which is traced back to 18 September 1810.

Like the most of South America, Chile was a colony of Spain. In fact, it was one of the least prosperous of all the Spanish colonies. A governor was appointed by the king of Spain to govern Chile. But, during the ascendancy of Napoleon Bonaparte in Europe, Joseph Bonaparte replaced Charles IV and Ferdinand VII. It led to the start of the Peninsular War in Europe and the effect was felt throughout the colonies of Spain.

During this time, Garcia Carrasco became the governor of Chile. He was authoritarian and corrupt and soon alienated the Criollo elites under him. Agitation mounted throughout South America, especially after the news of the defeat of Spain at the hands of France. Finally, the corruption of Carrasco forced him to step down and Count Toro Zambrano was appointed. Due to public pressure he agreed to hold an open city hall meeting at Santiago on 18 September 1810 to discuss the political allegiance of Chile. During this meeting, the Junistas put up a powerful show of force. The Junistas were a group who proposed that Chile should be ruled by a Junta composed of local notable citizens in the absence of a Royal government in Spain. Since they seized power on 18th September, this day is commemorated as the National Day of Chile.

However, conflict with Spain as well as supporters of the Royalists continued. It was with the Battle of Maipu on 5 April 1818, that the Royalists were decisively defeated never to rise again.

National Song
The Chilean National song is sung on the National Day of the country. Known as Himno Nacional de Chile in Spanish, the song was composed by Eusebio Lillo and Ramón Carnicer. The song is as follows:
Pure, Chile, is your blue sky;
Pure breezes flow across you as well.
And your flower-embroidered field
Is a happy copy of Eden.
Majestic is the (white) snow-capped mountain
That was given as a bastion by the Lord
That was given as a bastion by the Lord,
And the sea that quietly washes your shores
Promises you future splendor
And the sea that quietly washes your shores
Promises you future splendor.
Chorus : Sweet fatherland, accept the vows
That were given by Chile at your altars:
Either you be the tomb of the free
Or the refuge against oppression

The National Day is celebrated with a number of ceremonies throughout the country. Celebrations start early in September and continue throughout the month. Parades are the most important part of celebration. They include Huasos or traditional Chilean cowboys. Displays of national pride are also shown at these parades. Such parades are held throughout the country in different towns. Dance competitions are an important part of the celebration. Local dance called la cueca is a huge favorite. Local songs are also performed. Going to Chilean rodeos is another part of the celebrations.

The official celebration begins at 11:00 am with a religious ceremony called Te Deum Ecuménico de Fiestas Patrias which is organized by the catholic church and lead by the archbishop of Santiago. The ceremony is held at the Plaza de armas, and today it encompasses every faith throughout Chile. The National flag is hung from a white pole or in front of the buildings either horizontally or vertically. This is mandatory for all official buildings. The day following the National Day (19 September) is also a national holiday. It marks the grand finale of the celebrations with the Great Military Parade of Chile which is held in the O’Higgins park of Santiago.

Some of the interesting customs of the National Day of Chile are as follows:
  • This is the traditional time to visit family across the country. More than two million people travel during this time.

  • Schools and offices often declare a week-long vacation.

  • Most celebrations are conducted in a Ramada, which are temporary thatched roofed buildings. Food, music and dance festivities take place.

  • Traditional Chilean food is offered in refreshment stands called Fondas.

Here are some fun facts about the Chilean National Day.
  • It is called Dieciocho or the 18th.

  • The celebrations are called Fiestas Patrias. It literally means Patriotic parties.

  • Chile officially became independent on 12 February 1818.

Last Updated : August 1st, 2018