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How to celebrate ‘El Dia de la Independencia’ in Argentina

What comes to mind when someone says 9 de Julio?  A very big, very hard to cross road that divides Buenos Aires and is home to the obelisk? You’d get 1/2 mark. But in reality, officially the widest road in the world, 9 de Julio is named after one of Argentina’s most important historic dates and a day for celebration all over the country: El dia de la Independencia. We asked one of our Argentine colleagues to give Expanish blog the lowdown on how to celebrate this comng Saturday

Saturday, July 9 Argentina will be celebrating one of the most important days of its patriotic calendar. As with any celebration, the main ingredients, in no particular order, are….history, food, drink and people gathering at any of the (official and unofficial) events.

This year, we have the added touch that Sunday is election day, so, by law, everything must finish not so late into the night.

A little history…

On July 9, 1816, Argentina declared Independence from Spain. It was a process which started 6 years earlier, on May 25 (a day we also celebrate) when Argentineans expressed the intention to break free from Spanish domination. That day in May many years ago, in Buenos Aires, rain was pouring, and we all have the image in our heads of the patriots shouting and waving little blue and white ribbons. On July 9, things were a bit different. It was sunny and the gathering took place in Tucuman. People arrived riding their chariots from Buenos Aires, a trip that is said to have taken between 25 and 50 days.

 

So, when everybody was there, Laprida asked:

“¿Queréis que las Provincias de la Unión sean una Nación libre e independiente de los reyes de España y su metrópoli?”

Do you want the provinces of the union to be free and independent from the kings of spain and its metropolis?

 

To which the attendants obviously replied excited “Yes!!” And the offical document was promptly written and signed. It was also translated into quechua and aymara, so the native nations would also understand

Typical food…

So you probably already know about Argentinean delicacies like empanadas, bife the chorizo and meat in every shape and form. But the custom for these patriotic parties is to eat Locro. What is this I hear you ask? Locro is a stew made with corn, pumpkin and beans. And meat, of course. The lucky animal can be cow or pork, and the parts used vary according to the region. It is a high calorie, nutrient dense meal, in accordance with the low temperatures prevalent at this time of the year. It is seasoned with garlic, oil, onions and pimento, giving it a spicyness that warms the stomach. The concoction creates a creamy-like texture, and it is called locro suculento. When the Locro is made with minimal ingredients, it is called locro pobre.

 

For your sweet tooth, there are pastelitos, deep fried empanadas, closed in a special manner and stuffed with sweet potato or membrillo (quince) jam. To continue increasing the calories and the need for a siesta afterwards, tuck into churros and hot chocolate.

 

Activities in the city….

The main activities take place in the province of Tucuman, site of the historical event. The president will be there, and numerous artists and cultural activities will be enjoyed by the Tucumanos. Here in Buenos Aires, a very typical celebration will take place at the Feria de Mataderos, a fair that takes place every Saturday. It consists of bringing traditions back to the younger generations. There will be artisans selling their work, typical food, music and dance. This Saturday, there is the added attraction of the independence anniversary. More info http://blogs.buenosaires.gov.ar/barrioxbarrio/2011/07/06/feria-de-mataderos-domingo-9-de-julio/#more-4074

This Saturday you can immerse yourself a little bit more in the culture and traditions of this country, and on Sunday you can watch Argentina exercise it’s autonomy through the democratic vote. Remember, most shops will be closed all day, some will open after 6 pm, so stock up and have fun!