Chile’s Fiestas Patrias

by on 12th September, 2012

Celebrating Chile’s Fiestas Patrias

“Around this time of the year I get nostalgic for one of my past lives..the one when I lived in Chile – for Fiestas Patrias,” explains Andean Trails’ Alan.

“The 18th of September is Chilean independence and it is one of several days celebrating the Fiestas Patrias or National Holidays. It is also the start of spring and so everything to look forward to.

As soon as September hits, the red white and blue bunting appears in the shops, streets, and offices. Cars have miniature Chilean flags stuck to their wind-screens, Chilean folk music is piped in every lift, shop and office whilst the supermarkets are busy promoting wine and meat hailing the start of the bar-b-q season.

The elderly are happy as the local expression is that they “survived August” – the coldest month, the kids are happy as they get at least a week’s holiday and workers are happy as they get the 18th and 19th as public holidays – this year the 17th too!

“Ramadas” will pop up all over the cities, towns and countryside. These are a collection of stalls serving wine, empandas, and meat. There is music and folk dancing, people are dressed in traditional dress, the horses are out in the countryside and a long party gets under way.

I have experienced all kinds of ramadas. From the huge arenas in Santiago’s O’Higgins Park where thousands of the “pueblo” go to celebrate  and which can get quite lively to the more colourful bar hopping in Valparaiso’s port area as well as the rustic countryside ramada’s where the local “huaso” – Chilean cowboy – has his horse tethered outside.

If you travel in Chile in September you will not escape the festivities. Pack your dancing shoes and effervescent salts and join in with the locals and their chants of  Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!..Viva Chile!

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