July 4 is well known by Americans to be Independence Day. But other countries have an Independence Day of their own. Independence Day is usually defined as being the day that a nation received their independent statehood, and a lot of nations have one. Let’s take a look at some of those celebrations.
Afghan Independence Day is on August 19, the day that Afghanistan was given independence by the British in 1912. The president addresses the nation, there is a military parade, and people dress in national costume.
Belgian National Day celebrates the independence of Belgium from the Dutch. Notable buildings in the capital of Brussels are open to the public (they are usually closed), and like in the United States, it ends with a firework display.
Cyprus Independence Day is celebrated on October 1, although Cyprus was liberated from the British on August 16, 1960. The flag of Cyprus, designed after its independence, is prominent and a military parade is traditional, with tanks and armory flying the Cyprus flag.
While Denmark has a official Independence day, called Grundlovsdag, it is not considered a national day like in other countries. Shops close at noon and political rallies and meetings are held.
Eritrea only achieved its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. Its Independence Day is held on May 24 and is a public holiday with workers given the day off. The national animal, the camel, is a major feature. On a more somber note, there is a moment of silence for those lost in the thirty year war with Ethiopia.
Most people know Finland as a country, but fewer know that it only achieved independence from Russia in 1917. Their Independence Day, held on December 6, started off as a sedated holiday with church meetings and speeches, but has grown into a livelier celebration. The Finnish flag is displayed and bakers make ice cakes and buns with its colors, blue and white. It is tradition to light two candles in each window that evening, a sign to soldiers during the war that food and shelter are available there.
Grenada’s Independence Day is on February 7, and dates from 1974. There are ceremonies and parades featuring the national police force, Boy and Girl Scouts, and schools.
Honduras achieved independence from Spain in 1821. The biggest feature in its September 15 Independence Day is displays from schools. They march with flags, drums, and dance. Most parade marchers wear national soccer jerseys, because they are in the colors of the flag.
India’s Independence Day is on August 15. It features 21-gun salutes, flag displays, and showings of patriotic movies. Kite flying is another popular activity.
Kenya’s Independence Day is officially called Jamhuri Day, and is held on December 12. It celebrates both independence from the United Kingdom in 1963 and the establishment of the Kenyan Republic on the same date a year later. There are feasts, parades, and official speeches. It is also the day many Kenyans start their Christmas shopping.
Hari Merdeka is the Malaysian Independence Day. It is celebrated on August 31, when it was declared independent from the United Kingdom in 1957. There are parades, fireworks, and a logo and theme each year. Those themes tend to be one of unity, as there is a large mix of ethnic and religious groups in Malaysia.
The Republic of Nauru, a tiny island in the Pacific, celebrates Independence Day on August 31. It was previously owned by Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Peru’s Fiestas Patrias is actually a collection of three celebrations. The Independence Day celebration is the second, on July 28. It is preceded by Farmer’s Day on June 24 and followed by a celebration of the armed forces on July 29. The group of holidays are only second to Christmas in importance. The flag of Peru is flown for the entire month of July. There is a special mass, Te Deum, and the president gives his yearly address.
Qatar’s Independence Day was held on September 3 until 2007, when a decree moved the celebration to December 18. It is probably the only country which marks such a celebration with a classic car show.
Evacuation Day is Syria’s Independence Day. It marks the retreat of the French from the country on April 17 in 1946. There are parades, patriotic music, and flag displays.
No matter what Independence Day is celebrated, let’s hope it’s a happy one.
[Image via Getty Images/Paula Bronstein]