The week of festivities known as Fiestas Patrias began Sept. 18, 1810, to celebrate Chile's independence from Spain, which had created major settlements in Chile in the mid-1500s. Today, Fiestas Patrias celebrates civic pride in what it means to be Chilean, and millions of Chileans hit the road and skies to visit friends and families across the country. They also have picnics, parades and rodeos.
And of course, there must be food. The emblematic food of the festivities revolves around empanadas, a breadlike pastry filled with meats, fruits, raisins, olives, hard-boiled eggs and other items. Beef also reigns, and so many barbecues take place that meat sales spike markedly for the week. A typical dessert is alfajor, with two cookies bound together with a filling, kind of like a Chilean Oreo, and often coated with powdered sugar.
In Korea, it's the transition from long nights to long days that makes people festive. See how on the next page.