Fiestas Patrias (Chile)
The Fiestas Patrias of Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 consists of two days:
  • September 18, in commemoration of the proclamation of the First Governing Body of 1810, and marking the beginning of the Chilean independence process
    Chilean Independence
    Chilean War of Independence was an armed conflict between pro-Independence criollos who sought political and economic independence from Spain and royalist criollos, who supported the continued allegiance to and permanence within the Spanish Empire of the Kingdom of Chile...

  • September 19, known as the "Day of the Glories of the (Chilean) Army
    Chilean Army
    The Chilean Army is the land arm of the Military of Chile. This 45,000-person army is organized into seven divisions, a special operations brigade and an air brigade....


Within Chile the Fiestas Patrias are often referred to as the Dieciocho, or "18th" because the celebration occurs on September 18. Unofficially, the celebration can last for around a week, depending on when it falls (for example, if the 18th is a Wednesday, celebrations extend from Saturday the 14th, through Sunday the 22nd). Most schools and jobs declare a week-long vacation
Annual leave
Annual leave is paid time off work granted by employers to employees to be used for whatever the employee wishes. Depending on the employer's policies, differing number of days may be offered, and the employee may be required to give a certain amount of advance notice, may have to coordinate with...

 for the holiday. Together with Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, the fiesta is the most important time of the year for most Chileans.


The celebration of Fiestas Patrias is an expression of Chilean culture. Traditional activities associated with the Dieciocho include Chilean rodeo
Chilean rodeo
Rodeo is a traditional sport in Chile. It was declared the national sport in 1962. It has since thrived, especially in the more rural areas of the country. Chilean rodeo is different from the rodeo found in North America...

, dancing the cueca
Cueca is a family of musical styles and associated dances from Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. In Chile, the cueca holds the status of national dance, where it was officially selected on September 18, 1979.- Origins :...

, going to fondas
In Chile the Fondas is constructed as a temporary local sales of food and drink and dance during the Fiestas Patrias in September....

, and barbecue.
Officially, activities on September 18 are centered around a religious celebration "Te Deum Ecuménico de Fiestas Patrias". This ceremony, which is organized by the Catholic Church and led by the Archbishop of Santiago
Archbishop of Santiago
Archbishop of Santiago may refer to:*Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.*Archbishop of Santiago...

, has taken place since 1811 when it was started by José Miguel Carrera
José Miguel Carrera
José Miguel Carrera Verdugo was a Chilean general, member of the prominent Carrera family, and considered one of the founders of independent Chile. Carrera was the most important leader of the Chilean War of Independence during the period of the Patria Vieja...

. In 1971, President Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende Gossens was a Chilean physician and politician who is generally considered the first democratically elected Marxist to become president of a country in Latin America....

 asked that the celebration become more ecumenical, encompassing the diverse religious beliefs throughout the country. The ceremony itself begins at 11:00am in the Cathedral of Santiago.
On September 19, a military parade takes place at Parque O'Higgins, overseen by the President of Chile
President of Chile
The President of the Republic of Chile is both the head of state and the head of government of the Republic of Chile. The President is responsible of the government and state administration...

Many Chileans travel during the Fiestas Patrias to visit family in other parts of the country. In Santiago, many people travel to resorts on the Pacific coast, especially Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar , is a city and commune on central Chile's Pacific coast. Its long stretches of white sandy beaches are a major attraction for national and international tourists. The city is Chile's main tourist attraction. Known as "La Ciudad Jardín" , Viña del Mar is a Chilean Municipality located...

 and the Litoral Central region. It is estimated that 2 million Chileans—nearly one-eighth of the country's population—travel during this holiday.

Food and Fondas

Consumption of traditional Chilean foods is one of the principal displays of the Fiestas Patrias. Chileans prepare these foods in their homes, or they go to fondas
In Chile the Fondas is constructed as a temporary local sales of food and drink and dance during the Fiestas Patrias in September....

. Fondas are venues, often tents, prepared and decorated for the Fiestas Patrias where traditional Chilean dishes and beverages are served. The largest fondas are found in Parque O'Higgins. Each year the Chilean President kicks off the Fiestas Patrias celebrations at one of these locales. For many years, the selected fonda was La Grandiosa Bertita
La Grandiosa Bertita
La Grandiosa Bertita , is a Chilean Fonda that is installed during the Fiestas Patrias in the O'Higgins Park in Santiago, Chile....

The predominant food associated with the Fiestas Patrias are Chilean empanadas, which are a sort of bread pastry. The filling of these empanadas consist of pino, a mixture of chopped beef and onion, as well as half of a hard-boiled egg, raisins, and an olive. Many Chileans also throw a barbecue for the Fiestas Patrias. During this time sales of meat products exceed $50 million.

During the Fiestas Patrias the preferred drink is chicha
For the musical genre, see Peruvian cumbiaChicha is a term used in some regions of Latin America for several varieties of fermented and non-fermented beverages, rather often to those derived from maize and similar non-alcoholic beverages...

, a lightly alcoholic beverage typically made from grapes, although apple chicha is popular in southern Chile. Red wine enjoys popularity during the holiday, while pisco
Pisco is a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored grape brandy produced in winemaking regions of Chile and Peru. Pisco was developed by Spanish settlers in the 16th century as an alternative to orujo, a pomace brandy that was being imported from Spain...

, the so-called "national liquor", becomes secondary.

An alfajor or alajú is a traditional Arabic confection found in some regions of Spain and then made with variations in countries of Latin America including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, and Mexico, after being taken there by the colonists. The archetypal alfajor entered Iberia during the period...

es are a typical dessert. Alfajores consist of two lightly breaded cookies joined with manjar, a sweet filling made from caramelized condensed milk.

Use of the flag

In Chile, it is mandatory to hang the Chilean flag from every public building in the country for the Fiestas Patrias. The flag should be in perfect condition, hung from a white pole or from the front of every building, horizontally or vertically. If hung vertically, the star should always be in the upper left corner, visible from the front of the building.
Since 1967, this has been a mandatory practice, punishable with fines in local currency of up to 40,000 pesos
Chilean peso
The peso is the currency of Chile. The current peso has circulated since 1975, with a previous version circulating between 1817 and 1960. The symbol used locally for it is $. The ISO 4217 code for the present peso is CLP. It is subdivided into 100 centavos, although no centavo denominated coins...

(about US$ 80), although the law is not strictly enforced.
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