Much like the United States’ independence is celebrated on 4th of July, Latin American countries honor their own independence movements. Many of these movements occurred in the Age of Revolutions, a period from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s when several countries fought for and gained their independence. The Age of Revolutions began with the American Revolution in the 1770s, and by 1836 all of Latin America, except for Puerto Rico and Cuba, gained independence.
While hot dogs and fireworks represent some of the traditions that symbolize independence for Americans, other unique customs to commemorate hard-won freedom, national pride, and a revolutionary spirit are celebrated across Latin America. As you see in the United States, many Latin American countries honor their independence with big celebrations, which include parades, fireworks, and festivals. However, they also have unique traditions to celebrate their rich histories of revolution. From highly-anticipated speeches and reenactments to feasts that feature popular and traditional dishes, each country has a different twist on patriotic festivities and Latinos living in the U.S. continue to celebrate these independence days.
Latin Independence Day Celebrations
Independence holiday customs vary across Latin America. For example, in Mexico, the president recreates “El Grito de Dolores,” often called “El Grito.” This famous battle cry kicked off Mexico’s War for Independence from Spain. The cheering audience gets involved during the reenactment, shouting “Viva!” after each line is spoken. Celebrations of independence in Mexico also include large parades with vibrant floats and costumes, live bands that play traditional music, patriotic decorations, and fireworks displays. In the early 1900s, Mexican American communities living in California, Texas and the Southwest held dieciséis de septiembre - September 16th - celebrations.
Popular traditions on Colombia’s Independence Day include an official speech from the president, public concerts, beauty pageants, and parades featuring floats, military displays, and dancers wearing traditional costumes. Many of these traditions, such as speeches and parade floats, depict the history of Colombia’s fight for freedom. In Los Angeles, Festival Colombiano is hosted to commemorate the day. The festival includes music, dancing, and Colombian cuisine for families to enjoy.
Popular Latin Independence Day Foods
Beyond the parades and fireworks, many backyard barbecues take place during the Independence Day holiday in the United States, and popular foods like hotdogs, hamburgers, and apple pies are enjoyed. Food is a central theme across Latin American countries and for Latinos living in the U.S. during patriotic celebrations, with both ancestral dishes and modern favorites served.
Asado, a popular style of barbecue in Argentina, is often seen during holiday celebrations. This style of grilling usually consists of cooking meat over an open fire or grill.
In Venezuela, popular foods eaten throughout the holiday include a variety of traditional dishes and sweet treats, such as:
- Pabellón criollo – Recognized as the national dish of Venezuela, it’s no surprise that this is a favorite for the patriotic day. Traditionally, the food is made with shredded beef, rice, beans, and “tajadas” – fried plantains.
- Arepas – An iconic food in Colombia and Venezuela, these grilled corn cakes are commonly stuffed with different fillings, such as cheese, meat, or beans.
- Tequeños – These fried cheese sticks are popular at parties serving appetizers.
- Crema de Auyama – This traditional squash soup is often seen at celebrations.
Peru is also known for feasting during spirited celebrations of freedom. Popular Peruvian dishes during this time include:
- Anticuchos – Traditionally made from beef heart, this festival dish is marinated, skewered, and grilled over hot coals.
- Papa a la huancaína – This recipe usually consists of boiled potatoes served in a spicy and creamy cheese sauce.
- Arroz con pollo – This favorite dish consists of seasoned chicken and rice.
- Suspiro a la limeña – A dessert to complete many celebrations, this sweet treat is a caramel meringue pudding.
- Chicha morada – Many patriotic celebrations include this non-alcoholic beverage, which is the national drink of Peru. It’s made from purple corn and fruit juices.
Latin Independence Dates within Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated in the United States each year from September 15 to October 15 to celebrate the integral contributions the Latino community has had in growing and strengthening our democracy. This timeframe is significant because it covers the dates that many Central American countries celebrate the anniversary of their independence.
- September 15 - Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua
- September 16 - Mexico
- September 18 - Chile
- September 21 - Belize
Latin Independence Days Outside of Hispanic Heritage Month
Many Latin American countries commemorate their independence days outside of Hispanic Heritage Month.
- February 27 - Dominican Republic
- May 14 - Paraguay
- May 20 - Cuba
- July 5 - Venezuela
- July 9 - Argentina
- July 20 - Colombia
- July 28 - Peru
- August 6 - Bolivia
- August 10 - Ecuador
- August 25 - Uruguay
- September 7 - Brazil
- September 18 - Chile
- November 3 - Panama