Paraguay Independence Day

The Revolution of Independence occurred in the early morning hours of May 15th, 1811, culminating in a conspiracy led by Pedro Juan Caballero. The Spanish governor, Bernardo de Velasco, dismissed from his office, joined the first provisional forces, along with Capitan Juan Valeriano Zeballos and Dr. José Gaspar de Francia.

Paraguay is a landlocked country in the center of South America bordered by Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. Before the arrival of the Spanish it was inhabited by the Guaraní, and Guaraní is still spoken widely in Paraguay to this day. Along with Spanish it is an official language of Paraguay. When the Spanish arrived, the territory was included in the Viceroyalty of Peru which governed almost all of the Spanish Empire’s holdings in South America from the capital, Lima. But when the viceroyalty was split in two in 1776 it became part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata governed from Buenos Aires. Because of Paraguay’s remoteness and lack of economic potential at the time it was generally ignored by the Spanish crown, and, therefore, had little money for the military. In consequence the nation was able to declare independence from Spain on May 15 1811 without bloodshed (very different from other countries in the viceroyalty). When it was clear to the Spanish governor, Bernardo de Velasco, that revolution was imminent he disbanded his small garrison of soldiers rather than fight because he knew he would lose. Independence Day is marked in the cities with parades, music, dancing, and fireworks, and in the countryside with family barbecues.

The celebrations for Paraguay National Day take place all over the country. Events, such as parades, fireworks and concerts are held. However, there are different ways in which the day is celebrated across the country.

The most elaborate Independence Day parade is in the capital, Asunción. People may wear traditional clothes as they stroll down the streets: for the men, fancy shirts, broad-brimmed straw hats, ponchos, a faja (sash) around the waist, and full trousers known as bombachas ; for the women, blouses with lace inserts and brightly colored embroidery, full skirts with many layers of petticoats underneath, and a rebozo or shawl similar to the Spanish mantilla. Sopa Paraguay, a traditional Independence Day dish, is served on this day because it is only on special occasions that the poor can afford to buy the eggs and cheese that go into the soup.

At the Campo Area people celebrate the event with their family and friends. People have barbecues, play football and have fun with lots of beer and loud music. They also mix wine with cola to create the unique taste that can make such days all the more memorable.

At the larger cities and towns in Paraguay parades are staged. People also indulge in traditional Paraguayan food such as Sopa Paraguayan and corn. Mate, a local drink, is a common feature during the festivities.