How Other Countries Celebrate the Fourth of July

It may come as a surprise, as we pummel hot dogs to the dome on this hallowed day, that other countries also celebrate the Fourth of July—but on different days of the year. Quelle surprise.

If you're finding that this year's celebrations are indeed satisfactory—beer? beach? belligerent nationalism beyond your wildest dreams?—but you'd like to replicate them in other months of the year, we've compiled a handy look at celebrating Independence Day outside of July 4th. After randomly selecting twelve countries that celebrate freedom once a year, here is one day every month that you can request off to honor independence as a basic human right. Your boss will understand.

Haiti, January 1

Who from? France
When? 1804
National anthem? "La Dessalinienne"
What to eat? soup joumou; legend has it that soup joumou was "once a delicacy reserved for white masters but forbidden to the slaves who cooked it."
Bonus trivia: Haiti was the first black nation to gain its independence in a slave revolt, as well as the first nation in the Caribbean to do so.

How Other Countries Celebrate the Fourth of July

Sri Lanka, February 4

Who from? The United Kingdom
When? 1948
National anthem? "Sri Lanka Matha"
What to eat? hoppers, a crepe-like treat that are light and rounded like bowls intended to hold all kinds of toppings, from the sweet to the savory.
Bonus trivia: Only ten years after independence was established, Sinhalese became the sole official language of Sri Lanka, causing some of the early rumblings of conflict between the Tamils and Sinhalese. Via Encyclopedia Britannica:

"The language policy alienated the Tamils, who, under the Federal Party, carried on a bitter opposition. Educational policies angered the small but influential Christian community. Reforms of Buddhist and other cultural practices offended different factions within the Sinhalese community."

Greece, March 25

Who from? The Ottoman Empire
When? 1832
National anthem? "Hymn to Liberty"
What to eat? lamb kleftiko, a seasoned meat dish that is cooked in fig leaves over low heat for several hours; kleftiko means "of or belonging to the Klephts," who were a group of "Greek brigands who were never subjugated by the Turks. They roamed the high-country and mountainsides of Greece and Cyprus while the Turkish occupiers settled in the plains, towns, and cities."
Bonus trivia: The Philikí Etaireía was a secret revolutionary group where each member swore to "irreconcilable hatred against the tyrants of my country."

How Other Countries Celebrate the Fourth of July

Senegal, April 4

Who from? France
When? 1960
National anthem? "Pincez tous vos koras, frappez les balafons"
What to eat? thiéboudienne, a traditional rice and fish meal, which is considered Senegal's national dish, is often stewed in tomato sauce and can be served with any available vegetables.
Bonus trivia: The first president of the newly founded Senegalese republic, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was the author of the country's national anthem, as well as a respected poet.

Guyana, May 26

Who from? The United Kingdom
When? 1966
National anthem? "Dear Land of Guyana, of Rivers and Plains"
What to eat? mauby, a drink brewed with orange peel, sugar, water, and cinnamon, as well the bark of the mauby tree, is supposed to be a natural Viagra.
Bonus trivia: The flag of Guyana was actually designed by an American, a vexillologist named Whitney Smith.

How Other Countries Celebrate the Fourth of July

Philippines, June 12

Who from? Spain
When? 1898
National anthem? "Lupang Hinirang"
What to eat? halo-halo, a mixed-fruit-and-ice-cream dessert, is not traditionally eaten on Independence Day but it looks like fireworks, so it is worth eating to celebrate independence.
Bonus trivia: The Philippines' declaration of independence was stolen in the early 90s from the National Library where it had been held, along with other precious artifacts, which were then sold and auctioned off to collectors. It has since been returned.

Maldives, July 26

Who from? The United Kingdom
When? 1965
National anthem? "Gaumii Salaam"
What to eat? Go for fish, coconut, and starches; mas huni and huni roshi is a dish of dried coconut and unleavened coconut bread that is eaten across the island.
Bonus trivia: Take out your phone and show this video to your friends, please.

India, August 15

Who from? The United Kingdom
When? 1947
National anthem? "Jana Gana Mana"
What to eat? There is no unified national cuisine of India, since it is a country so large and varied in climate and agriculture, but Independence Day can be celebrated with tricolor burfi, a sweet treat made from sweetened condensed milk and saffron.
Bonus trivia: Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is a novel that documents the history of India's independence through the birth of a very special group of children. There is a month left until Indian Independence Day, so you have time to read it.

How Other Countries Celebrate the Fourth of July

Armenia, September 21

Who from? The Soviet Union
When? 1991
National anthem? "Mer Hayrenik"
What to eat?
Much like Americans, Armenians are big on barbecue.
Bonus trivia:
Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan is actually in the United States today (as in July 4 today) to meet with the US ambassador to Armenia. In a gesture of international goodwill, Sargsyan wished Barack Obama a happy independence day, stating, "We deeply cherish our friendship with the United States and are pleased that through the joint efforts we have elevated our bilateral partnership to a qualitatively new level." And to you, Serzh!

Turkmenistan, October 27

Who from? The Soviet Union
When? 1991
National anthem? "Garaşsyz, Bitarap Türkmenistanyň Döwlet Gimni"
What to eat? Plov, a Turkmen version of pilaf, is a lightly-spiced rice dish that consists of cardamom, cumin, meats, and vegetables, and is eaten at a number of holidays, including Independence Day.
Bonus trivia: On Saparmurad Niyazov, Turkmenistan's dictator after the country gained its independence:

In the early years of independence, a corrupt regime led by the dictatorial rule of Saparmurad Niyazov failed to improve the quality of life for the population, despite the interest of foreign investors in Turkmenistan's natural gas resources. During the course of Niyazov's rule, his primary interest proved to be propagating an elaborate personality cult. In addition to declaring himself president for life, Niyazov pursued a number of extravagant projects to this end. Atop a monument called the Neutrality Arch, a gold statue in his likeness—one of the many such statues and portraits scattered throughout the country—was designed to rotate to continuously face the Sun. He called for a "Golden Age Lake" to be constructed in the desert at a cost of more than $6 billion, and his semiautobiographical Rukhnama ("The Book of the Soul") was established as required reading in all of Turkmenistan's schools, even forming a part of driver's exams. He renamed days of the week, months of the year, a crater on the Moon, a breed of horse, a canal, a city, and a wide range of ideas and places after himself and members of his family.

Barbados, November 30

Who from? The United Kingdom
When? 1966
National anthem? "In Plenty and In Time of Need"
What to eat?
Cou-cou and flying fish, a dish made from corn meal, fish, okra; though it can be made with any kind of fish, flying fish is native to Barbados and is used the most (they really do fly).
Bonus trivia:
During the month of November, as Barbados celebrates its independence, an arts competition called NIFCA runs alongside the festivities, where Bajans compete for gold medals as well as presidential awards.

Finland, December 6

Who from? Russian Republic
When? 1917
National anthem: "Maamme"
What to eat? Karjalanpiirakoiti, mini Karelian pastries stuffed with rice porridge or potato mash
Bonus trivia: Only this year, a close former adviser of Vladimir Putin revealed to a Swedish newspaper that the president of Russia believed they should regain Finland in an act to "protect what belongs to him and his predecessors." Finland has since increased surveillance along its borders to protect itself.

How Other Countries Celebrate the Fourth of July

Here is an informal tally of the top five countries that were the biggest colonizers, based on a list of international independence days:

  • United Kingdom - 54 countries
  • France - 25 countries
  • Spain - 18 countries
  • Soviet Union - 11 countries
  • Portugal - 7 countries

Good luck out there today, everyone. Let us know how you're celebrating.

[Images via AP/Wikipedia/Puttis World]