Tomorrow the United States celebrates its 238th birthday by taking the day off to barbecue and light stuff up into the air. However, we mustn't forget that independence day is celebrated all across the globe - just not on the 4th of July (unless you're from Abkhazia). Here is a list of when and how a few other countries celebrate their independence courtesy of Ozy.com:
PAKISTAN AND INDIA: SHARING HISTORY
The two South Asian neighbors celebrate a day apart: Pakistan on Aug. 14 and India on Aug. 15. That started in 1947, when the two countries were carved out of one British colony to allow the outgoing British viceroy to attend both independence ceremonies.
The two nations have since become bitter rivals, but in recent years, their consecutive Independence Day celebrations are embraced as a time to promote peace. Activists from both countries have met on the border between India and Pakistan to mark their shared history and engage in a transnational dialogue. Even the displays of nationalist fervor at the nightly Wagah Border ceremony, where citizens from both countries gather on opposite sides to cheer on high-stepping border guards as they lower their respective flags, take on a more communal tone. Last year, officials on India’s side of the border brought sweets to present to their Pakistani counterparts in honor of their Independence Day.
SOUTH KOREA: I BEG YOUR PARDON
South Koreans also celebrates Independence Day — aka Gwangbokjeol or “Restoration of Light Day” — on Aug. 15. That’s the day in 1945 that Japan surrendered during World War II, ending the fight in the Pacific and liberating Korea from Japanese colonial rule. Of course, Korea had been self-ruled for centuries before the Japanese conquest.
In addition to the usual patriotic displays (Gwangbokjeol even has its own official song), it’s also a day when the South Korean government issues special pardons, primarily for petty crimes. A 2002 Korean movie, Gwangbokjeol teuksa (translated to English as Jail Breakers) spoofs the tradition, featuring a hero who’s been leading a model life in prison in hoping to receive one of the coveted pardons … until his girlfriend tells him she’s leaving him, at which point he throws caution to the wind and hatches a plan to escape from jail.
HAITI: THE TASTE OF FREEDOM
Lots of countries have traditional foods they eat on Independence Day but Haiti’s meal of soup joumou might have the best backstory. Legend has it that under French colonial rule, native Haitians weren’t allowed to eat the Caribbean-style pumpkin soup because it was too much of a delicacy for slaves. But after the Haitian slaves revolted and finally defeated French forces in 1803 — the only slave rebellion in history to successfully establish its own country — that all changed.
Now every Jan. 1, Haitians mark the occasion by sipping on soup joumou.
Ain’t freedom sweet?