Bienvenidos a la Mision Chile Santiago Norte! We love the Savior, and are blessed to be part of this great work, to share His gospel, and invite others to come unto Him. We are grateful to have this incredible opportunity to associate with such fine young men and women and other couples who are serving in this wonderful part of the vineyard. We decided to share this mission through a blog, with any who would like to know more.... All of the lessons, talks, training, conferences, and meetings are obviously done totally in Spanish, but for the sake of this writer, the notes are here in English, for speed in typing, and therefore, mixed with a bit of both worlds. We hope all of our missionaries, families, and loved ones can enjoy this blog, in spite of the writing, grammar, language, errors, etc. This will be a miraculous journey, and we invite you to share and enjoy it with us.

Lovingly, con cariño,
Presidente Michael May
Hermana Carol May

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bicentenario, 200 year Independance Day Celebration in Chile, el dieciocho/18th de Setiembre!

This year in Chile, as the Bicentenario marks their 200 years of independence, the Chileans are even more ready to celebrate. The government legally made the holiday official for this year to include Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, to make the 17, 18, 19, and 20th all holidays for everyone. This was to allow total rest and complete partying to the nth degree! Our missionaries participated in their wards.
Some of our observations we noticed throughout our mission as we visited different celebrations:

• All stores, businesses and local restaurants are closed.
• Celebration parties include typically, empanadas, to start. This should always be accompanied by a choripan/hard French roll, sliced vertically with a sausage inside. Homes have their personal hibachi set up, to the large size parilla/grilling bar-b-q that allows great quanties of meat, chicken, sausages, and completes to be cooked. Even on street corners a metal trash can, will soon serve with a grill on top to cook anticuchos-a favorite of Chileans, of shish-ka-bobs with hotdogs, and some type of meat, unknown and unimportant to most.
• People are bustling around in groups, families, with children in tow, in the dusk, early mornings, late hours, etc, that looks like trick-or-treaters on their way to some fun activity.
• Ferias and bonfires are roaring on street corners, down the blocks, in the roads and lighting the neighborhoods.
• Typically quiet neighborhoods have speakers blasting cueca music, and most people seem to know and recognize the music and we hear them singing along, with the words. It feels like piped in Christmas music, but more lively and elevates their spirit after a long winter.
• KITES: September, which is just on the brink of spring in South America, is a pleasantly breezy month in Chile. Ideal for flying a kite! And, as in some other countries (The Kite Runner, for example, describes the same passion for kites in Afghanistan), in Chile kite flying is supreme. In the past, most kites were homemade, but now more and more are commercially produced and more elaborate than those that come out of the family workroom. Nevertheless, homemade kites still, and always will, have a charm that will keep them flying. As everywhere else, the idea of kite flying is to see who can stay up there the longest and the highest. At the same time, however, the person controlling the string can experience a good run on the beach, through a soccer field, or in any open space in the neighborhood. All through September in all parts of Chile the kites fly, and sometimes besides the person flying the kite, you can still see groups of youngsters who run with long poles, gladiator-fashion, after the kites that take a nosedive and get caught in telephone wires and on tree limbs. On Dieciocho, there are kite-flying contests all over the country, with the bright colors of the airborne paper dotting the sky. One of the most popular designs for the kites is the Chilean flag.
• FLAGS: Chile’s national emblem
Chile’s flag is very similar to the flag of the state of Texas: a lone star on a blue background in the top left corner, complemented by wide stripes of red and white. On Dieciocho, flags fly all over Chile. Flags are flown on tops of houses, off the roofs of businesses, on balconies in the ‘bloques’ or housing ‘projects’, on windows in shorefronts, flapping in the wind behind vehicles or from their hoods and wearing them on pins and lapels. Before Dieciocho, there are announcements on the radio and TV about how to fly the flag properly, and, on September 18, a homeowner could be fined for not having a flag displayed in the yard or hanging on the house. This may seem quite a rigid requirement on the part of the Chilean government, but in the meantime the thousands of flags make a spectacularly colorful scene in every town and city of the country.
• CUECA Dance and Costumes: The cueca is traditionally danced by a male and a female. There are specific steps (sliding and stamping) and movements in circles and semicircles. These movements change according to the three parts of the sung cueca, so the dancers’ steps have to coincide with each section of the song. The dancing is very mathematic and geometric but also very engaging and personal. Each dancer has to end each part of the dance in the spot where he/she began. The man and woman can join arms and talk in the preliminary promenade before the singing begins, as well as when the singers have finished. However, during the dance, they can’t speak, touch each other, or take their eyes off each other, except when they make turns.
Both dancers carry handkerchiefs, which act as silent but expressively integral members of the dance. The handkerchief conveys festivity and, since the cueca is basically a dance of courtship, it acts as the “language” of the people who are dancing. The woman keeps her handkerchief near her face or at shoulder level. The man can wave his handkerchief over his head, at waist level, or around the woman’s feet. Occasionally the dancers hold their handkerchiefs with both hands. If the cueca is done correctly, what looks to the uneducated eye like a dance floor full of people just whirling around happily waving handkerchiefs is a very precise performance with a flirtatious and joyous spirit.
During Independence Day celebrations, those who really know how to dance the cueca will come to the fondas or appear in presentations dressed in traditional dance clothes. Men wear riding pants, chaps, spurs on their boots, a short jacket, a short poncho called a manta, and a flat-brimmed felt or straw hat. Women wear a long black skirt, white blouse, and short jacket, with the same type of a hat as the man’s; or a flowered dress with an apron, and no hat. The other people visiting the fonda join the experts on the dance floor, even if they aren’t sure of the cueca steps. The bottom line is that the cueca is an expression of joy, and national independence is something to celebrate happily. When you dance cueca, it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, rich or poor, from northern, central or southern Chile. All that matters is that you’re Chilean, you love your country and you cueca proudly to show it.


  1. Thank you for the post. It brings back many memories of my "deiciocho" celebrations during my mission back in 1997-1999. It is fun to read what is happening in Santiago. Say hello to Pres Kemp as I read he is at the CEM. Zach Anderson

  2. Familia May, Thank you so very much for posting a description of
    Chilean independence Day. My sons touched briefly on it, but I felt like we were there through your words. Many thanks for all you do in taking care of our most precious sons. We love and appreciate you and the wonderful Chilean people. We are so happy winter is over...now, hopefully, the work can progress at a faster pace. Dios guarde Los Chilenos. Love from Oceanside Ca, The Tialavea family

  3. Thank you so much for keeping this blog. It is so exciting to catch a glimpse of my son, and to see a little bit what Chile is like.