Celebrate Independence Days Around the World
Discover how other countries remember their fight for independence and how their celebrations compare to typical American-style revelries
By Eliana Osborn
When I was growing up, Fourth of July meant homemade ice cream and doing something outdoors. In America, it is traditionally a day of parades and fireworks, celebrating America’s independence from Great Britain. All over the world, other countries also have a day designated to celebrating and remembering their own freedom and independence.
As a class, practice geography skills by locating each country. Kids can also research foreign countries, or small groups can find cross-cultural similarities and differences.
Independent from: Spain
Date: September 16
Customs: The party starts on September 15th, as citizens gather and wait for 11 p.m. When the clock strikes, the president stands on the balcony of his palace, rings the same bell that was rung to start the fight for independence, and calls out “Viva Mexico! Viva Independence!” The people in the square outside the palace, as well as town squares across the nation, repeat these proclamations with a lively shout.
The following day is filled with parades, rodeos, eating, and remembrances of Father Hidalgo—the priest who first rallied his congregation and the nation to fight for independence.
Independent from: Russia
Date: August 24
Customs: This modern independence came only in 1991, as the Soviet Bloc began to dissolve after 70 years of oppression. During that time, Ukraine was heavily suppressed by the USSR. Now, August 24th is a public holiday, starting the day before as people celebrate the Ukrainian flag. The president hoists the flag to get the celebration started. Fireworks, circuses, and giant markets mark this special day.
Independent from: Monarchy
Date: July 14
Customs: Fireworks on the night of July 13th symbolize the taking of the Bastille; a prison where revolutionaries were held. This rebellious act is considered to be the start of the French Revolution, a war that ended the monarchy and allowed France to begin a democratic government.
There is a huge military parade in Paris, and the day is filled with grand dances, group meals, and musical performances. Even the Eiffel Tower is decked out in the colors of the French flag. Much like in the United States, people spend the day with family members, enjoying a relaxing, outdoor summer meal.
Independent from: Great Britain
Date: December 12
Customs: Jamuhuri, Swahili for republic, is the day Kenyans celebrate their first constitution and independence from Great Britain. Parades and public events are centered on a theme of unity. On this day, they focus on being one country, rather than a nation divided into many tribes or small groups. The president often gives a speech, and people eat traditional fare with their extended families.
Independent from: Great Britain
Date: August 15
Customs: Achieving independence was a vicious struggle for India; thus, this is an important holiday for the whole country. Each year, the prime minister addresses the nation. He talks about the nation's successes and India's future plans. The flag is unfurled, costume parties take place, and many people fly kites. The day also serves as a memorial to the many that died before independence was won, so national heroes are honored and remembered.
By focusing on just one celebration, Independence Day, in a variety of countries, learners are able to see the similarities and differences in cultures around the world.
Learn about the Indian independence movement, including one of the most famous reformers of the 20th century. The focus on nonviolence that Gandhi began has been mimicked in protests around the world.
Analyze the Declaration of Independence to lay out the arguments for creating a new nation. Pupils can organize the text into complaints against Great Britain, as well as goals for America.