For several days, Chileans intensely celebrate their national holidays. Houses and buildings wave Chilean flags. Classes are suspended in colleges and universities. Banks, factories and offices close their doors. Everyone goes out to celebrate. Families and friends come together at ramadas and fondas, the festivity grounds. Public parks become social spaces where typical products are served and traditional artistic spectacles are offered to the public. There are also games and often equestrian shows.
Foods typically offered are empanadas (savoury filled pastries), anticuchos (meat skewers) and pastel de choclo (corn casserole). The favorite dessert is mote con huesillo, a drink made with dried peaches and cooked wheat. These foods are mestizo, born from the exchange of indigenous and Spanish food traditions. Typical heritage drinks are also consumed, such as chacoli wine and pipeño wine, both made from grape varieties from the time of the Spanish Empire. The most popular drink is the “terremoto” (earthquake), made with pipeño wine, pineapple ice-cream and a touch of grenadine.
Chileans love their Fiestas Patrias; they are by far the most important days of the year. It’s an important instance for families to get together. Young people who live in the capital travel to the regions of the country to visit their parents, grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles who wait for them with a barbecue, empanadas, pipeño, and terremotos. Friends and families also head together to fondas to indulge in typical foods and watch folkloric shows, namely of cueca, a typical Chilean dance presented in traditional folk garb.
Going to Chile during the Fiestas Patrias, the 18th and 19th of September and a couple of days prior or after the official holiday dates, is the opportunity to truly experience Chilean culture. It is not just a tourist attraction. It’s what Chileans are, what they live for, what they like and share. Our office also shared in the celebration with decorations and typical sweets and empanadas.