Join Us in Celebrating Independence Day in Guatemala!
Today is Independence Day in Guatemala! ¡Feliz día de la independencia!
When I was little, I remember wondering why people ran with torches through the streets during Independence week. It was just so weird to me! Then, my parents told me it was a tradition that represented how horsemen many years ago went to different countries in Central America to announce that Guatemala was now independent.
At that moment, I understood the idea of running with a torch for Independence Day— and I did so myself years later. It’s not something you see every day, so I just had to do it! I was around 11 when we saw a group of people running through the street with a torch. At that moment, my brothers said they wanted to run too and have the chance to carry the torch. My parents pulled the car over and talked to the person that was guiding the group so they’d let us run a couple of minutes with them.
Suddenly, I found myself running with a bunch of people I didn’t know, but we were all excited about it and had so much fun! It felt like now I was a true Guatemalan ready to rock the culture! I had a lot of fun that day and hope that when I become a mother, my children run an antorcha, too.
Let’s take a deeper look at the importance of Independence Day in Guatemala and some of the things Guatemalans do to celebrate it.
Independence Day in Guatemala: A Big Deal
First of all, Independence Day in Guatemala is celebrated on September 15. On that day in 1821, the próceres (or national heroes) managed to sign the Sovereignty Act, meaning that since that year Guatemala has been considered an independent country. The other Central American countries of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras also gained independence on this day. Today, Guatemalans celebrate Independence Day with several activities.
Civic Activities at School
Schools commemorate Independence Day in various ways. Some hold assemblies and talk about the importance of this day, while others create mercaditos which are small markets in which the students (mostly the younger kids from kindergarten to third grade) sell different products to the rest of the school and their parents. In these mercaditos, the kids wear typical clothing and sell typical food.
It’s a beautiful activity that teaches kids about their culture and how to earn some money with their effort. In fact, I remember that when I was around 7 and had to sell in my school’s mercadito, I learned that I definitely wasn’t a saleswoman. I basically gave for free my products because I didn’t want people to buy something expensive!
Parades (Los Desfiles)
Across the country, school marching bands and dance teams practice for several weeks leading up to the big day. On September 15, they perform in huge parades. It’s amazing how they make their own costumes and prepare for so long so everything’s perfect.
Loads of spectators line the streets to applaud and take photos and videos. Vendors sell typical Guatemalan food like tostadas, rellenitos and atol de elote so everyone has something delicious to eat while enjoying the parade. ¡Que divertido!
The Torches (Las Antorchas)
Last but not least, the famous antorchas. As I mentioned, these torches symbolize how horsemen with torches rode through Central America to announce that Guatemala was an independent country. In 1964 the tradition of carrying torches began, and it has become more and more important every year since.
Of course, most people don’t go out on their horses nowadays. Instead, they form big groups and run through the streets holding a torch, and take turns so that everyone can hold it. The antorchas in Guatemala usually begin two days before Independence Day, so there are several days in which you’ll see them, not only on the 15th.
In general, Guatemalans aren’t that patriotic, but during Independence week—or month—it’s like a wave of patriotism hits us all, and suddenly everyone is surrounded by flags, whistles, white and blue, delicious food, and a lot of energy and happiness.
Independence Day in Guatemala is a national holiday, so people don’t go to work, school, or anything else. It’s a day to spend time with our family and friends and celebrate that we are a free country!
A Personal Meaning
This celebration always represented union to me. As I told you, Guatemalans are not always patriotic, but Independence day means that everyone will be happy and excited about the same thing. Everyone takes out their flag and you can feel the love for Guatemala in the air.
Learning more about this celebration can help your child get closer to their Spanish teacher. It can help them realize how much they have in common, which will help your child get motivated to learn more about something. Connecting with your teacher naturally makes you want to learn more about the topic they teach.
In case you want to help in this learning process, you can encourage your child to make a small list with questions and ask their teacher about what they’re doing for the holiday. Something like “What are you doing on independence day?”, “Have you ever run in the antorchas?”, or “What’s your favorite typical food on this day?” can work as great icebreakers.
If you or your children aren’t yet enrolled with us at Homeschool Spanish Academy, check out our immersive Spanish language programs and curriculum for all ages. This can help your child’s learning, and yours, too. Our teachers would love to meet you!
Independence Day Words
Check out this must-know vocabulary related to Independence Day in Guatemala!
|comida típica||typical food||koh-mee-dah tee-pee-kah|
|traje típico||typical clothing||trah-heh tee-pee-koh|
|himno nacional||national hymn||eem-noh nah-syoh-nahl|
Did you know that at the beginning of the 20th century, the Americanist Society of Paris considered Guatemala’s national anthem to be one of the best in the world, along with those of France and The Czech Republic?
Phrases Related to Independence Day in Guatemala
Here are a few phrases that have to do with Independence Day in Guatemala.
- ¡Mira las antorchas! – Look at the torches!
- ¡Agita la bandera para que todos puedan verla! – Wave the flag so everyone can see it!
- Es nuestra obligación cívica sabernos el himno nacional. – It’s our civic obligation to know the national anthem.
- ¿Verás los desfiles este año? – Will you go see the parades this year?
- ¿Qué harás para el 15 de septiembre? – What will you do for September 15?
Guatemala is a country full of traditions and a beautiful culture! Ven a conocer nuestro bello país.
Want to learn more about Latin American culture? Check out these posts!
- The Spectacular Laguna Lachuá National Park in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala - July 1, 2021
- Happy Birthday in Spanish: Party Supplies, Greetings, and Songs! - June 19, 2021
- We’re Having a Baby! A Vocabulary Guide in Spanish - June 18, 2021