Colombian Independence Day

This past July 20th, Colombia celebrated her official independence from Spain. Today, we want to spend some time telling you a little about the history of Colombia’s Independence Day as well as give you an idea of what sorts of things people in Colombia do to celebrate this national holiday.

It is important to know, if you do not already, that Colombia was part of Spain’s colonial empire in the Americas as part of the Vice Royalty of New Granada which also included what is present-day Venezuela. In the 1800s, Spain was in a precarious position as Napoleon Bonaparte was rolling across Europe and invading a good number of European countries, including Spain, both through military action as well as nepotism. Taking advantage of this situation, patriots in Colombia and all over South America rose in rebellion against Spanish rulers. In Colombia’s case, several cities, such as Cartagena, declared independence from Spain before the actual country itself did so. Eventually, when Bogotá rebelled on July 20th, 1810, the Vice Royalty of New Granada was forced to grant a temporary independence from Spain that would supposedly last until the French returned the Spanish crown to Ferdinand VII, the rightful Spanish king. However, this temporary independence was the first step in the process of Colombia earning permanent independence which culminated with the Battle of Boyacá in 1819, where Simón Bolívar triumphantly liberated Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama (Gran Colombia) from Spanish rule.

Now, how do Colombians celebrate their independence you might ask? Well, it depends on where you are in the country. In Bogotá, for instance, there is the annual military parade that goes between two important plazas in the city – the Plaza de Simón Bolívar and the Plaza de Toros, and, in the past there have also been concerts such as the one in 2011, at the Palacio de los Deportes that celebrated the Afro-Colombian communities and cultures in the country.

Likewise, the gastronomical event, Alimentarte, has taken place on July 20th in the past and celebrated various important members of the independence movement in Colombia through food. There is also always the chance that there will be peaceful protests and/or marches where people come together to show their united desire for peace in Colombia on this historic day. This year, in Barranquilla, there was a EuroAmerican Cup soccer match between the local team, Junior, and Monaco, so many people here celebrated their independence by enjoying a good game in the stadium. In Cartagena, more than 6,000 public and private school students participated in a parade that transverses the beautiful historic center of the city, and in smaller cities and towns throughout the country, you would find smaller parades and events in the central plazas as well as patriotic decorations sporting the three colours in the Colombian flag. Likewise, all over the country Colombians celebrated this year’s July 20th at home with family and friends over food, drinks, and good company, many sporting their official Selección Colombia jerseys as countless Colombians celebrated not only the independence of Colombia but also the pride and excitement they still feel for their national soccer team’s superb performance in the 2014 World Cup!

The Uncover Colombia Team

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