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July 2015

Independence days around the world

The top celebrations of freedom in each of the world’s continents

With the arrival of the Fourth of July, pantries across the United States become replenished with ample supplies of food. Looking forward to the celebration, grills and smokers are brought out, lighter fluid and flame at the ready for festivities under a nighttime sky full of fireworks.

But the United States isn’t the only place where an independence day is celebrated. Today we’ll take a look at some of the world’s most prominent celebrations of liberation and freedom from each of the continents.

United States of America

The Fourth of July is commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress in 1776, the governing body acting against the British Empire. The signing of the historic document marked an important milestone in America’s fight for independence against Great Britain.

Celebrations usually involve aerial fireworks and outdoor events like barbeques. On military bases, a "salute to the union" occurs, a firing of guns, one for each state in the country.

France

Known worldwide as Bastille Day, the French National Day celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. Bastille Day also honors the subsequent unification of France on July 14, 1790, a celebration known as the Fête de la Fédération. The French Revolution resulted in the end of feudalism and the beginning of the French Republic, overthrowing the previous monarchy. It is regarded as one of the most influential events in modern history, helping to spread liberal and republican ideals across the world.

The Bastille Day Military Parade is a highlight of the holiday in France, a spectacle complete with troops and aircraft aerobatics. Today, Bastille Day is celebrated in countries around the world.

Australia

The Australian national day honors the anniversary of when British ships first arrived at Port Jackson in New South Wales in 1788. It was then that Governor Arthur Phillip first raised the British flag in the country. Unlike the American day of independence, "Australia Day" commemorates the country's union with Great Britain. It wasn't until 1901 that the then British colony was turned into a federation, the country becoming the Australia that we recognize today.

Giant firework spectacles can be expected during Australia Day. From boat races in Sydney to the People’s March in Melbourne, each Australian city celebrates the holiday in its own unique way.

Ghana

The first Prime Minister of the state formerly known as the Gold Coast, Kwame Nkrumah led the path to independence from the United Kingdom in 1957 for the country now known as Ghana. Independence was declared on March 6, 1957, the country made autonomous and Nkrumah dubbed the first Prime Minister of Ghana. The country was the first African country to gain its independence from the UK.

Traditional Ghanaian celebrations are merged with fireworks, parades, and marches. Parties are held on both street and beach, and partakers can look forward to eclectic presentations of music.

Brazil

On September 7, 1822, Portuguese prince Prince Dom Pedro I announced the independence of the Brazilian Empire from Portugal. While the revolution was relatively peaceful in comparison to other Latin American revolutions, war still erupted. The Independence War lasted from February 1822 to November 1823. Portuguese forces could not defeat the growing Brazilian army and its associated militias. An estimated 5,700 to 6,200 died in the war lasting 22 months.

Air shows, parades, and military spectacles are presented on the national holiday. Around 30,000 people attend the military parade at the Ministries Esplanade, a central avenue in Brasília.

India

The Indian national flag was first raised on August 15, 1947, marking the country's independence from the British Empire. The Independence Movement of India featured nonviolent resistance and non-cooperation, tactics led by the iconic figure Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi. The revolution resulted in new borders drawn for the country's ethnic divisions. This in itself caused much turmoil with effects lasting until today.

In commemoration of the flag raising by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, subsequent Independence Day celebrations include a similar flag raising above the Lahore Gate of Delhi's Red Fort alongside a speech by the Prime Minister. Billions of people celebrate Independence Day in India. Morning ceremonies are held, kites are flown, and, like with the rest of the world, the outdoors are thoroughly enjoyed.

Which is your favorite Independence Day holiday? How do you celebrate? Let us know on our Facebook page and be sure to “like” TELC English for more fun cultural facts from around the world!

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