The Fourth of July is fast approaching. This means American flags galore, fireworks, barbecues, outdoor sports, beaches, binge-drinking and poor decision making all in the name of patriotism—at least if you’re American.
Outside the U.S., most people couldn’t care less about the Fourth of July. It is a uniquely American holiday celebrating our nation’s independence from Great Britain.
Despite its popularity here, the Fourth of July is only celebrated in America. The event that inspired this summer holiday—the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776—simply doesn’t apply to any other country in the world and is therefore not widely celebrated.
However, even though they don’t share in our celebration of independence, many nations celebrate their own independence days in unique ways.
September 7 marks the day of Brazilian independence from Portugal in 1822. A military parade is held in the nation’s capital and is led by the president of Brazil. Similar events, as well as fireworks and carnivals are held in all major cities in Brazil to celebrate the independence.
Chile achieved independence from Spain on September 18, 1810. The nation celebrates with food, music, parades, parties, religious services and historical reenactments. The national rodeo finals are held in Rancagua and thousands of people fly kites in Antofagasta. Independence Day is September 18, but celebrations usually last around a week.
Haiti celebrates its independence from France on January 1. The holiday commemorates the day in 1804 when Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared independence and restored the country’s native name. It is customary to eat soup on this day to celebrate freedom and equality.
Greek Independence Day is celebrated on March 25. It marks the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821 and coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of the Annunciation to the Theotokos. Greeks celebrate their independence with religious and secular parades and festivals.
Independence Day in the Philippines is observed on June 12. The Philippines gained independence from Spain in 1898. It has been the country’s National Day since 1962. Like America, the Philippines celebrates independence during the summer with outdoor activities and fireworks.
September 21 commemorates the restoration of the Republic of Armenia on September 21, 1991, after 70 years of Soviet rule. Festivities begin with the Armenian national anthem. Well-known Armenian performers sing traditional songs and wear national costumes to celebrate local traditions.
Indian independence from Britain in 1947 is celebrated on August 15. Festivities include flag-hoisting, parades, patriotic songs and kite flying. The prime minister and the president of India also raise the nation’s flag and give a speech on this day.
Ghana declared independence from Great Britain on March 6, 1957. It was the first sub-Saharan country to win liberation from its colonizer. The country celebrates independence with fireworks, parades, marches, street parties, music and traditional dance. The president of Ghana also delivers a speech.
Mexico’s independence is celebrated with parades, marching band performances, concerts, patriotic programs, drum and bugle and marching band competitions, as well as special programs on national and local media outlets. Each year at 11 p.m. on the night of September 15, the president of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace and shouts “viva Mexico” from the balcony. The event commemorates the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810.
South Africa—May 31
South Africa has been independent from Great Britain since 1910. However, the country celebrates Freedom Day on April 27 instead, the date of the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994. Apartheid in South Africa also ended during 1994.
South Korea—August 15
South Koreans celebrate their independence from Japanese rule in 1945 every August 15. Citizens hang flags from their houses and sing songs. The president attends an official ceremony and most public museums and places are open free of charge for the descendants of independence activists.
Syrian Independence Day, also known as Evacuation Day, is celebrated on April 17. The national holiday commemorates the evacuation of the last French solider from Syria and the country’s proclamation of full independence in 1946. Independence Day is considered one of Syria’s most important holidays and is celebrated with fireworks.