September 18 and 19, Chile celebrates its Independence. Although most activities really take place on the 18th and 19th, school shut down two days before that, so I did not have class that entire week! It was quite a fun cultural experience.
First off, everybody has asados, or “grill-outs,” kind of like Fourth of July in the United States. But multiply the quantity of food we eat in the US by eight and that is how much food is consumed in Chile during that week. There are all kinds of meat: chicken, ribs, pork, and steak. Everything is grilled to juicy perfection and covered in sauces and dips. There is honestly SO.MUCH.FOOD. It was heaven. People spend the week drinking, too. Wines go great with meat, but there are two drinks that are pretty popular during this time, terremotos and chicha. Terremotos are wine with grenadine and pineapple ice cream, and chicha is a wine made from apples or grapes. Both are pretty good, but one needs to be careful when consuming any kind of alcohol, especially around the 18th of September. Many people drink too much around this time of year, and it can lead to some pretty serious problems.
There were fairs set up, too, in many different locations. They included rides and games, restaurants, and crafts for sale. There were always a ton of people, but it was a lot of fun to go. The restaurants grilled fresh empanadas and chorripan, and prizes for the games ranged from stuffed animals to bottles of alcohol. There was an entrance fee if you entered after 8 pm, and everything in there cost money, but it was still fun to go and hang out and catch all the sights. I have never really been to a fair before, so that was an awesome new experience!
Learning about another country’s Independence Day and the way they celebrate is important to understanding the culture. Chile has been a free country for almost 200 years, and more recently had a dictator in the 80s that set them back. Although there are still negative ramifications from that time, Chile is rebounding nicely, and that week was a lot of fun!
For more information on Chile’s dictatorship, visit: http://global.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/111326/Chile/25275/The-military-dictatorship-from-1973