All across the globe, many countries have been birthed out of earth-shattering events, from unlikely revolutionary war victories to freedom declarations by colonial powers. Many freed nations can point back to a specific first day of liberty, and these days have been enshrined as major celebrations for the citizens of these nations. You may be familiar with your own country’s independence day festivities, but how much do you know about the rest of the world? See if you recognize any of these important freedom holidays.
1 The United States
The 4th of July, 1776 was the day that the United States declared its freedom from England and sparked a new trend of revolution across the world. Each July 4, Americans celebrate this day with a nationwide display of red, white, and blue decorations, fireworks, and backyard barbeques. Parades and concerts are also very popular. In the cities, there are many large gatherings that people can choose to attend. Small towns celebrate in a more traditional style, with parades down the main street and street fairs offering traditional American food and music.
Another nation that celebrates its freedom from Great Britain’s rule is India. On August 15, 1947, this country’s colonial rule ended and a new era began. Indians celebrate August 15 with large celebrations. A flag hoisting in New Delhi is televised throughout the country, and many Indians head outdoors to fly orange, white, and green kites that look like the national flag.
September 16 is Mexico’s Independence Day—not May 5, as popular culture portrays. While Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Napoleon III’s defeat at the Battle of Puebla, September 16 commemorated the day in 1810 when the Mexican revolution against Spain began. Mexico goes all out for its independence day, filling the streets with banners, flowers, flags, and more. Parties, outdoor vendors, parades, and fireworks are all a part of this memorable day.
Bastille Day is celebrated all across France to remember the day when the French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille in 1789. There is a big parade in the Champs-Elysees, which features representatives from all branches of the military. Across the country, many local fire stations throw a party for the townspeople, and the evening brings firework displays. Bastille Day is also celebrated around the world: the French West Indies hold their own smaller version of France’s revelries, and French-influenced nations (or those with high French populations) such as Canada, Belgium, Hungary, and South Africa celebrate it in their own way.
November 9 is a big day in Cambodia. This is the day they celebrate their nation’s independence from France in 1953. King Sihanouk, who pressured the French into independence on his terms, is a hero who is also celebrated on this day. A famous Cambodian independence day celebration is the balloon release at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh.
On 7 September 1822, one of the world’s most peaceful independence days occurred in favor of Brazil. The nation was freed by a Portuguese Prince, who declared Brazil free of his family’s rule. Today, the annual holiday is used for celebration, but also involves protests against corruption and shows citizens’ longings for a better and increasingly independent future in Brazil. Of course, for celebration, there is a huge parade in the capital that is covered in the colors of Brazil’s flag.
Indonesia was once a Dutch colony, but all of that changed on 17 August 1945, when the nation declared itself free of Dutch rule. Today, people celebrate their national freedom with a variety of unique activities. One of these is the release of green sea turtles into the ocean. Another is a game of strength and determination, panjat pinang, in which people have to climb up a greasy pole to get to prizes like electronics and bicycles. Many people engage in cultural activities and eat Indonesian crackers.
Lithuania was one of the first countries to regain its independence from the USSR. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania’s declaration of reinstatement was adopted by the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Today, this event is celebrated by many festivals across the country. Speeches, parades, and government-sponsored events are held for the public to enjoy. There are even free theatrical productions, operas, and concerts!
In 1919, Afghanistan received independence from Great Britain on August 19. Officially, a small and very formal celebration is held by the heads of state. More casually, Afghan citizens dress in the colors of their flag and hold celebrations and parties across the country.
10 South Sudan
The world’s most recently freed country celebrates its independence day on July 9. In 2011, this nation received its freedom from the Republic of Sudan. Although civil war caused celebrations to be canceled in 2016, the nation hopes to revive its celebrations in the future. For the first four years of its national independence, South Sudan celebrated with speeches, flag raisings, and singing. Traditional dances and more were enjoyed by all. We hope that Sudan will again be able to celebrate as a united entity in coming years!
There are dozens of other nations who also celebrate a day of national freedom. Did we miss your country? Tell us in the comments how you and your countrymen celebrate Independence Day!