The original inhabitants of Chile were the Mapuches. They lived in the region between Chiloe Archipelago and Aconcagua river. People from different ethnic groups formed the Mapuche population. The Araucanians were the prominent of these ethnic groups. Other ethnic groups categorized under Mapuches are the Nguluche, Picunches and Huilliches. Today, the Mapuches account only for 4% of the Chilean population. Spanish lifestyle, customs and practices influence the Chilean culture of today. The facts about Chilean culture presented below should help us understand more about this country.
Chilean Culture Facts
The family institution is given importance in the Chilean culture and it greatly influences the social life in this country. It is quite common to see family-run businesses in Chile. Handshake is commonly used for greeting. Men greet women with a kiss on the cheek. The expression of tu is the Spanish counterpart of 'you' in English. The term Usted is used to show respect and it means the same as you. Chileans are known to follow many different traditions. Amongst these, Rodeo and trilla a yegua are the important ones.
Rodeo: Rodeo is a traditional sport played mostly in rural areas of Chile. It is a team sport with two members in each team. The players in this sport have to ride horses; the horse riders are referred to as 'Huasos'. Objective of this game is to stop a running calf and pin it against cushions that are placed in the arena.
Trilla a Yeuga: It is a Chilean tradition in which wheat is separated from chaff, and horses are used in this process. Horses are made to walk on the wheat for separating the chaff.
Festival Internacional de la Cancion It is an international song festival celebrated in the month of February. Vina del Mar is where this event takes place annually. Artists from different Latin American countries throng Vina del Mar to celebrate this festival.
Language and Literature
Spanish is the widely spoken language in Chile. German and English are also spoken by few. The Mapudungun and Aymara languages are spoken by indigenous tribes of this country. Out of the nine languages of Chile, 7 have become extinct. Spanish language governs the literary scene in this country.
Chile has produced two Nobel laureates in the field of literature. Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda are poets from Chile to have won the Nobel prize. The characteristic feature of Mistral's poetry is its passionate and forceful presentation. Incorporation of a variety of literary currents is the specialty of Pablo Neruda. The works of these two poets have taken Chilean literature a step forward.
Music and Dance
The national dance of Chile is cueca. The cueca dance developed from, Zamacueca a traditional Peruvian dance. A courting scene is enacted through this dance. This dance is however, also performed solo. There are many variations of the cueca dance form and one of them is Cueca Chilota. In the Cueca Chilota, emphasis is laid on musical performance and the dance steps are lighter. The singer is given more importance in this musical show. Northern Cueca is another variation in which the singer is not involved. Tubas, drums and trumpets are the musical instruments used in the Northern Cueca.
The Chilean people have 4 meals in a day including the 'once' that is taken at a time between 4 pm and 7 pm. Breakfast is not heavy and includes bread served with toppings. Tea or coffee is the beverage taken with breakfast. Lunch is the heaviest of all meals. Bean dishes are commonly found in Chilean meals. Some of the other dishes include pastel de choclo and cazuela. The 'once' meal mentioned above is a breakfast accompanied by tea or coffee. 'Once' was a code word used by Chileans with reference to the practice of drinking liquor at around 5 pm. This tradition afterward changed into the practice of taking a meal between 4 pm and 7 pm. Dinner is heavy just like the lunch.
Geographically, Chile is a thin strip of land which incorporates diverse cultures. This nation has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its music, literature, food, traditions, etc. The facts about Chile presented through this article should provide an overview of the culture of this nation.