It may be hard to believe, but not *everyone *celebrates the good ole' Fourth of July! In fact, most people outside the US might even chuckle at the thought of a day revolved around hot dogs, beer, and fireworks.
Well, just like America has its own unique Independence Day traditions, so do plenty of other countries across the globe. Here's a look at some of the most vibrant, diverse, and fun-filled celebrations of freedom around the world!
India • August 15
The "Fifteenth of August"
Since India was freed from British rule in 1947, the Fifteenth of August has become a national holiday filled with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades, and patriotic songs. Every year on this day, Indian skies become speckled with colorful flying kites of all shapes and sizes. When it comes to India's Independence Day cuisine, families and friends indulge in tri-color food dishes, which feature orange, white, and green - the colors of the national flag!
While South Africa declared its independence from Britain on May 31, 1910, the country celebrates a very special day in late April as "Freedom Day." Why? Well, on April 27, 1994, the first democratic, non-racial elections were held and Nelson Mandela was voted president.
This day marks the end of colonialism and apartheid, the restoration of human rights, and the liberation of South Africa and its people! While it's undoubtedly a day of mixed emotions, South Africans celebrate their unity and diversity with parties, inspirational speeches, and braais (barbecues).
Mexico • September 15 - 16
"Dia de la Independencia"
September 15th? I thought Mexico's Independence Day was on Cinco de Mayo? *Nope, not the case! Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not *actually *Mexico's Independence Day. On the night of September 15th, Mexicans take to the streets and begin to memorialize the Grito de Dolores, the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence.
For a full 24 hours, from the night of the 15th to the 16th, Mexico becomes one big party of parades, food, concerts, and fireworks. Traditionally, festivities start in Zocalo Square, Mexico City, where Mexico's president recites the cry of patriotism, and to which the enthusiastic crowd responds "Viva*!"
Each year, France commemorates the day when, in 1789, just under one thousand Parisians stormed the Bastille fortress to release prisoners and free the country from tyrannical oppression. This pivotal event catalyzed the French Revolution! Since 1880, July 14th has been deemed a public holiday called "Bastille Day" or "la fete nationale" or *"le quatorze juillet."*
On July 14th, the French wake up to a day of no work and all play. In Paris, the day kicks off with a military parade on the Champs Elysees and ends with fireworks over the Eiffel Tower. But don't worry - there's tons of partying in between! It's a France-wide tradition to attend a Firemen's Gala on Bastille Day. All throughout the country, fire stations open their doors to the public for a jolly good time of dancing and drinking!
Every July 28, Peruvians toast to freedom with a classic Pisco Sour, Peru's oh-so-popular national drink! No matter where you are in Peru, you'll be able to feel the vibrant spirit of its colorful Independence Day celebrations. In Lima, the day starts with a cannon salute and ends with a giant parade in Miraflores, Lima's bustling downtown. Feast your eyes on colorful costumes, hear the beat of drum lines, and feel the energetic Peruvian pride in the air.
Peruvians love this holiday so much, they celebrate for 2 days! July 28 commemorates the date when Jose de San Martin proclaimed Peru's independence from Spain, and July 29 serves as a day to honor the Armed Forces and National Police.
After over 300 years of being a Dutch colony, Indonesians decided enough was enough. In 1945, a group of brave revolutionaries declared Independence from the Netherlands - but the fight was far from over. Although the country was granted independence in 1945, it wasn't until *2005 - *yes, 50 years later - that the Netherlands officially accepted the date of August 17, 1945 as the date of Indonesia's independence.
This vibrant country of over 17,000 islands lights up on this newly-recognized national holiday, as parades, community gatherings, athletic events, sack races, and cultural and performing arts activities commence. Ready for a unique Independence Day tradition? Every year, groups of Indonesians competitively climb up pinang trees to reach for prizes. This local favorite game is called Panjat Pinang, and you can find people competing all over the country on August 17th!
Norway • May 17
On Constitution Day, Norwegians wake up to the sound of of marching bands, the sights of parades and traditional "bunad" costumes, and the creamy sweetness of ice cream - a *lot *of ice cream. Commemorating the signing of the constitution in 1814, Constitution Day, or the "17th of May," is by far the country's biggest party.
Another yummy Constitution Day tradition, besides copious amounts of ice cream, is the "17th of May breakfast." Often a big happy potluck with friends and neighbors, this kick-off meal consists of favorites like fresh bread, eggs, smoked salmon - and lots of champagne, of course.
"Thngai ekreachy rikreay!" - Happy Independence Day!
Cambodia's had quite an extensive history, in terms of its independence. The Khmer people had long maintained their own identity, but during the colonial era, they fell under French rule for over 90 years! In 1887, Cambodia was made part of the unified colony of French Indochina, until World War II, when the country fell under Japanese control. After the war, it was returned to France, then finally gained its own, full independence on November 9, 1953.
Today, Cambodians celebrate their freedom by marching in lively parades, participating in cultural events, and watching spectacular fireworks displays all across the nation. If you're looking for the largest, most-spirited celebrations, head to the capital city of Phnom Penh, where colorful floats and bright balloons fill the streets. Hear the sound of marching bands, watch Cambodian flags wave in the air, visit the Royal Palace, and watch the night sky explode with fireworks over the Mekong River.