Celebrating Independence Around the World
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Celebrating Independence Around the World

Achieving independence is perhaps the most important milestone in any country’s history. It makes sense then that these countries’ independence holidays are characterized by large celebratory events (like fireworks parades, concerts, and contests) and unique patriotic displays you won’t find for any other holiday. Read on for more about how these countries celebrate their independence!

When: July 28
What: Independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821.
How: Known as Fiestas Patrias (Patriotic Holidays), the entire country celebrates with two days of countrywide festivities. Vendors provide an ample supply of must-try street foods, like chicharrón and anticuchos, as onlookers watch the parades through downtown Lima. It’s impossible to miss the all night showcase of official and unofficial fireworks. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a bullfight arena packed with anxious spectators. Bullfighting, a tradition from Spanish and Mediterranean cultures, has become a popular way to commemorate Peruvian independence.

When: August 15
What: Independence from the British Empire in 1947.
How: The day begins in Delhi with the hoisting of India’s flag. City streets come alive with vibrant colors, reflective of the country’s traditional hand dyed garments. People of India drape their businesses, homes, and vehicles with the country’s tri colored flag. All across the country, decorated and accessorized kites fill the skies as both young and old generations join in the kite-flying fun!

When: 5th day of Iyar (a month in the Hebrew calendar that usually falls between April and May)
What: The signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
How: Also known in Hebrew as Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israelis gather in the streets of Jerusalem to enjoy live music, grand firework displays, and other street performance. Most roads close to cars and other modes of transportation to allow for full enjoyment of the day’s festivities.

Yom Ha’atzmaut is also known for its Annual International Bible Quiz. High school students from around the world gather to exhibit their knowledge and understanding of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. The contest offers large prizes, including travel to religious meccas and higher education scholarships.

When: August 17
What: Independence from Dutch rule in 1945.
How: A nationally televised flag raising in Jakarta kicks off the country’s independence day celebration. Parades, live music, and athletic competitions, like sack races, fill the streets for a day full of excitement. Whether competing or spectating there are two events that cannot be missed. The first, an eating contest based around the Kerupuk, a giant cracker unique to Indo. The other, called Panjat Pinang, is very amusing climbing contest. The first person to reach the top of a greased palm is congratulated with an abundant selection of prizes, all fixed to the treetop. The lucky winner may find bicycles, scooters, televisions, and even sound systems!

United States
When: July 4
What: The signing of the Declaration of Independence from British colonial rule by the 13 original American colonies on July 4, 1776.
How: People dress head-to-toe in red, white, and blue and flock to outdoor BBQs with family and friends. American flags are hung on almost every house and business, and cities around the country gather their best floats and walking shoes for annual parades. Wherever you are there will be some sort of firework display about an hour after sunset. Looking for the best shows in the country? Brooklyn, NYC, Washington Monument, Washington D.C, and Beacon Hill area, Boston, MA have all mastered the most patriotic day of the year.

When: August 31st
What: Declaration of independence from the British Empire by Malaysia’s first chief minister at 9:30am on August 31, 1957.
How: Each year the Malaysian government selects a theme for the country’s independence celebrations. Preparations for the big day begin weeks in advance, and the selected theme; the theme dictates decor, parades, food, and more. School children across the country perform dances and theatrics and deserve much appreciation, as they’ve been practicing and preparing for at least a month in advance! Loud, bright parades make their way through the capital city of Kuala Lumpur throughout the day.

When: December 18
What: Although the Qatar became independent from the British on September 3, 1971, its independence day is celebrated on the day that all local tribes were united into one State of Qatar by then-ruler Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani in 1878. The country was originally Ottoman ruled before becoming a British protectorate in the early 20th century.
How: Qatar goes all out for the big day with spectacular parades, fireworks, concerts, and shows! People prepare their cars all year for the main event, the classic car show. They drape them in Qatar flags and show them off to onlookers in hopes of impressing the masses. All festivities are kept kid friendly, a rule strictly enforced by police and security. The government also provides free shuttles to the city center all day and all night to allow the public to easily access the various celebratory events.

About the Author

Sam Kimmerle