Independence Day. We’re Not The Only Ones That Celebrate.
With the upcoming celebration of our nation’s independence, I often wonder what other people do to celebrate an important moment in their countries history. We gather with family and friends, cook hot dogs, drink beer and blow stuff up. Let’s see what else is going on around the world.
On September 7, Brazil celebrates its independence from Portugal in 1822. When Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Portugal in 1808, the Portuguese monarchs moved the court to Brazil and gave the colony more administrative independence. Eventually, Brazil refused to go back to colony status and declared independence.
On May 31, 1910, South Africa declared independence from Britain. But the country celebrates April 27, the day in 1994 when the first democratic, non-racial elections were held. South Africans commemorate the restoration of dignity and human rights after a period of racism and apartheid.
To celebrate independence from British rule in 1947, India holds the “Fifteenth of August” national holiday. The country celebrates with flag-hoisting, parades, patriotic songs, and kite flying. In Delhi, the Prime Minister delivers a speech at Red Fort, a 17th-century complex that housed the Mughal emperors, who were exiled during British rule.
On August 15, South Korea celebrates liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. The Japanese began to take control of the Korean peninsula in 1910, restricting political freedoms and trying to assimilate its economy and society into Japanese culture. Three years after Japanese surrender in 1945, South Korea established its own government. Today, South Koreans celebrate by hanging flags on their houses, making public museums free-of-charge to descendants of independence activists, and singing the official “Restoration of Light” song.
Poland celebrates its independence on November 11 to commemorate becoming a state again in 1918 after Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned the territory. The Poles celebrate with parades, festivals, and outfits of red and white. The major event is in Warsaw’s Pilsudski Square at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, while Kraków holds a military parade and a Catholic mass burial.
In Israel, Yom Ha’atzmaut commemorates the state’s declaration of independence on May 14, 1948. An official ceremony at Mount Herzl, including a speech from the speaker of Israeli Parliament (Knesset), artistic performances, a flag of Israel, and ceremonial lighting of 12 torches for each Tribe of Israel, happens the night before. On the day of the celebrations, families gather for picnics and barbecues.