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Folkloric traditions

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Traditional Customs

The most popular Chilean tradition is the Fiestas Patrias (Independence Festivities), which are held on September 18 and 19 to commemorate the First Assembly of Government in 1810. Its fonda and ramada parties offers traditional fare including empanadas, chicha (a fermented liquor) and red wine, and dances like the cueca and cumbia. Flags are raised, kites are flown and Chilean-style horse races are held.

The Chilean rodeo is a traditional custom and a national sport. Riders are put to the test as they attempt to rope young bulls on a crescent-shaped field called a "medialuna." The stars of the show are the huasos, with their traditional garb (hat, poncho, scarf and spurs). They give life to the country's most important rodeo championship, Champion de Chile, which is held at the rural Medialuna de Rancagua.

Chile is a premiere wine-producing country, and the harvest is celebrated in the central region during the first weeks of March. The festivities in the city of Curicó date back the farthest and begin with a ceremony blessing the first musts that gives way to a parade complete with floats and grape-stomping competitions. Near Santiago, the Colchagua Valley (in Santa Cruz) and the Maipo Valley (in Pirque) offer colorful and lively wine harvest celebrations.

The Quasimodo Festivities are celebrated in rural parts of central Chile. During this rite, a Catholic priest gives communion to the sick on a decorated float accompanied by riders in kerchiefs. The event dates back to Colonial times and is celebrated the first Sunday after Easter. You can attend the celebration in Santiago's Lo Barnechea, in towns like El Monte (outside of San Antonio) and on the outskirts of Rancagua.

Instead of moving from one house to another, some residents of Chiloé, simply tie their house to a boat or oxen and move it to a new location. The "tiradura de casas" ("House Pulling") involves a minga, during which neighbors and friends help with the move and are rewarded with food and drink.

The celebration of La Tirana is held each year (July 12-17) in the small town of the same name, which is 52 km from Iquique. The tradition attracts multitudes of pilgrims and travelers. Dancers and musicians in colorful outfits and masks give life to the diablada, a carnival-like dance of religious origin that is meant to drive out demons. Masses are offered in the church and you'll find crafts, food and plenty of dancing all around town.


Featured Destinations

aSan Pedro de Atacama bIquique
cLa Serena and Coquimbo dSantiago
eHighlights of the Central Valley fWineyards
GEaster Island HChiloé
IPucón, Villarrica and Temuco JValdivia and Osorno
KPuerto Varas and Puerto Montt LNorthern Patagonia
M   Southern Patagonia




La Trilla San Pedro
Rural Chilean towns celebrate la trilla ("the threshing") each January and February. In many places, this work is still done the old-fashioned way, with horses separating the wheat from the chaff. The celebration includes plenty of food and wine, folk dancing, traditional games and even a Chilean-style Mass. The country's fishermen celebrate their patron saint, San Pedro (Saint Peter), each June 29. The faithful bring a figure of the apostle out to sea aboard a boat that is surrounded by smaller watercraft carrying the parishioners. They pray for an abundance of fish and a benevolent sea as they bring the saint to the various coves where they make an offering of the fruits of the sea.




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