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Holidays and Festivals

January 1: Año Nuevo, or New Year’s Day, often celebrated outdoors.


March or April: Semana Santa, or Holy Week, including Palm Sunday (Domingo de Ramos) Good Friday (Viernes Sanato) and Easter (Pascua de Resurrección) is arguably the most important religious feast in predominantly Catholic South America. Semana Santa is celebrated from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday with religious ceremonies and processions taking place in churches and throughout the streets. Participants sometimes carry large wooden crosses or walk the streets on their knees in order to pay homage to their Catholic faith.


1st Sunday after Easter: Cuasimodo, or Correr a Cristo (Run to Christ). Primarily celebrated in Santiago, this day-long celebration begins with a mass and continues with a procession of the parish priest in a decorated carriage. Immediately behind him, townspeople on cart, bike, or foot, move through the city, shouting and stopping along the way to their homes to enjoy food, drink and music in honor of el Rey, Christ the King. The celebration is a long tradition, stemming from colonial times when priests would deliver the Eucharist to the elderly and ill who could not attend mass on Easter.


May 1: Día de los Trabajadores, or Labor Day.


May 21: Día de las Glorias Navales, or Navy Day, commemorates the epic Battle of Iquique, between Chile and Peru in 1879, with speeches, parades, celebrations and festivities. Specifically honoring captain Arturo Prat Chacón, who is considered Chile’s greatest military hero, el día de las Glorias Navales is celebrated nationally throughout the country.


June 29th: Feast of San Pedro and San Pablo.


August 15: Asunción de la Virgen, or Assumption.


1st Monday in September: Day of National Unity. Replacing a previous holiday that celebrated the military coup which brought dictator Augusto Pinchet to power, this rather recent celebration (introduced by the government in1999) is a public holiday also called Reconciliation Day.


September 18: Fiestas Patrias, or National Independence Day. Celebrating the country’s independence from Spain in the early 1800s typically includes dancing, drinking, eating traditional Chilean foods, parades, music, and nearly every home decorated in red, blue, and white.


September 19: Día de las Glorias del Ejército, or Armed Forces Day. Immediately following the countries independence day, Chileans celebrate their Armed Forces with a parade, or Parada Militar, in which all branches display troops and equipment in Santiago’s second largest park, Parque O’Higgins. Smaller parades throughout cities and towns, as well as government air displays, round out the festivities across the country.


October 12: Día de la Raza, Día del Descubrimiento de Dos Mundos, or Columbus Day, is a celebration of Hispanic heritage in Latin America. Song, dance, and costume honor the discovery of the New World, as well as mestizaja, or the mingling of races.


November 1: Todos los Santos, or All Saint’s Day


December 8: Immaculate Conception.


December 25: Navidad, or Christmas, is celebrated in summer, as Chile is located in the southern hemisphere and December presents warmer temperatures and longer days. Just as the rest of the world, good Chilean children are visited by Viejito Pascuero (Old Man Christmas), and given toys and other gifts from his reindeer-drawn sled. These gifts are opened close to midnight on Christmas Eve and enjoyed all Christmas Day. Typical Chilean foods are prepared alongside Pan de Pascua, a special sweet fruitcake dessert, and Cola de Mono, a traditional drink made from milk, coffee, liquor, cinnamon, and sugar.


Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Feast Days in the Precordillera de Belén,

By Margaret Rode
A self-professed city girl, sassy staff writer Margaret Rode hails from Chicago where she received Bachelor degrees in English Literature and Spanish...
17 Feb 2009

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