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Fiestas Patrias, Chile's Most Important Holiday

September brings spring to Chile, and with it the days of celebration of Chile's independence from Spain. Technically the independence celebration is September 18, also known as the Dieciocho—which means 18 in Spanish. However, Chileans don't just celebrate on one day— Fiestas Patrias festivities usually begin one week before September 18th.

The country celebrates Fiestas Patrias with parades, festivities, food, music, and beverages.

Much of the drinking, music, and dancing occurs in the ramadas, open-air "buildings" with a dance floor under a thatched roof, or one made traditionally with branches, as in traditional shelters. Refreshment stands, fondas, offer a variety of national food favorites.

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