We have neglected the blog a bit. I didn’t want to miss posting about the Dieciocho Holidays. It was such a different experience for us. Here is our much overdue post:
September brings two big holidays to Chile: September 18 or “Dieciohco,” which is the Chilean Independence Day and September 19 which celebrates the Army. The two holidays together create a celebration that lasts for a whole week with schools closed and everyone off work. All over Chile, people celebrate with fiestas patrias or “national parties”, reenactments, traditional dancing, music and games. (some additional background with this link from About.com)
It is hard to properly convey how big this holiday is in Chile. I’m not sure there is an American equivalent. A bit of fourth of July – in that there are so many outdoor activities in parks across the country. A bit like New Years Eve – in how hard people party. You are even expected to give gifts to everyone from your nana or maid, trash folks, newspaper delivery people, etc. It might be bigger than Christmas, and for a country that is 85% Catholic, that is a big deal.
Dieciocho at Nido de Aguilas
In anticipation of Dieciocho, Madie and Jack spent weeks learning traditional Chilean folk dances in PE and traditional songs in music class. The cueca is considered the national dance of chile, many traditional dances are on display during Fiestas Patrias. Each class at Nido learned a different dance.
Jack’s class dance had the girls and boys dancing as couples. You can imagine what a bunch of second graders thought of that! But the dances were quite elaborate. I was very impressed with what the teachers took on.
In addition to the performances, the kids also had parties organized individually by classroom with traditional Chilean food, crafts and games.
A bit of a sidebar here: The idea at TCS (our old school) where parents were expected to bring in healthy food options would never be a thought here. “Fruit Break” in the states translates to “Candy break” here in Chile. Most kids bring in Starbursts for snack. You can imagine what comes into the classroom for a party. Even Minute Maid fruit juice has extra sugar here.
Dieciocho in Santiago
Throughout Santiago different groups, Municipalidads, etc. host Dieciocho parties. We had heard the that most kid-friendly was the Partido in Parque Hurtado. In fact, we understand that the Parque Hurtado option was created because many of the other parties are insane. Lots and lots of drinking for days on end. Check out this link for “Fondas 2012” and you can get a sense for just the many options there are. You can choose from hundreds of Fondas for every taste. Santiago Magazine provided a good overview of the choices for this year…. if we were 10 years younger.
Choosing the family-friendly Parque Hurtado option, there were so many great activities. It reminded me a bit of a state fair but many more horses. The Chileans love the Rodeo. There were two different rodeos going on at the park along with many craftsman making cowboy hats and other gear for the rodeo.
One thing that was very similar to a state fair was the lack of fine food. The meal of choice was anticucho which is basically meat-on-a-stick.
With September 19 the celebration of the army, the military had a HUGE display. They also have parades throughout the city.
Many families also take advantage of the week off from work and school to travel. The downside for non-planners is that when the entire country is off at the same time, you need to book any vacation a year out. Next year we will be much more on top of everything.
Given that all of our stuff had just arrived from the states, it was good to stay in Santiago and just get our house settled. We hung pictures, organized rooms. It really made a big difference to getting our house to feel more like home.