The most important civic holiday in Chile is Independence Day, a celebration of the country's freedom from Spanish rule. The celebrations last two days. The armed forces stage a large parade in Santiago attended by the President. Smaller parades are held all around the country. The parade is often followed by a huasa or rodeo. 

Christmas and New Year's are generally spent with family and friends. The celebrations include family dinners, Christmas trees and all-night parties. Most Chileans also attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve. During the Christmas season, Chileans drink cola de mono (monkey's tail), made from aguardiente (a strong alcoholic beverage), coffee, milk, sugar, cinnamon and egg yolk. New Year's Day is often spent at the beach, since it occurs in the summer.

Most of Chile's rural festivals are religious. The festival of Domingo de Cuasimodo is celebrated the Sunday after Easter throughout villages in central Chile and is a uniquely Chilean tradition. Houses are decorated and people wear colourful costumes and parade through the village on horseback or in coaches, holding images of Christ. Priests ride in carriages that are escorted by huasos (cowboys) and offer communion to the elderly and sick as the procession passes their homes.

Another special Chilean festival is the Festival of La Tirana. Thousands of Chileans, mostly members of dance and music clubs, pay tribute to the Virgin Mary at the village of La Tirana near the Atacama desert. Musicians play traditional music and a group of dancers dressed in costumes and masks dance continuously for three days pausing only to eat and change. After the dances, people go on pilgrimage to the Virgen del Carmen.

Cities, villages and trade guilds each have a patron Saint, which they commemorate with a special mass and small processions. It is common for children to celebrate the day of the saint after whom they are named. These days are celebrated just like birthdays.

New Year's Day

January 1

Holy (Easter) Week 

March or April

Labour Day 

May 1

Navy Day

May 21

Corpus Christi 


Assumption of the Virgin 

August 15

Independence Celebrations

September 18-19

Columbus Day 

October 12

Immaculate Conception 

December 8 

Christmas Day 

December 25

Did you know? 

There are various beliefs associated with New Year's such as eating lentils at midnight for good luck or walking around with a suitcase in order to increase your chances to travel in the upcoming year.