Reina de los Militares — El Salvador independence day

TK: What’s one of the most memorable cultural experiences you remember from childhood in El Salvador?

MC: Independence Day? Over here you guys just do fireworks. Over there you have to rehearse with marching bands. It’s on September 15. If you’re an honor role student, you wear this blue and white sash to represent you’re one of the best of the school.

TK: Were you one of those kids?

MC: One time. But I was a princess so I was a different thing.

TK: What?

MC: They choose, like, a queen from the school and one for the military, and I was a princess from the military and I was marching with the whole military crew. That’s what they do over there.

TK: So the real military?

MC: Mhm, the army over there.

TK: What do you mean queen?

MC: You’re the pretty girl of the whole army and then you march with the military instead of marching with the school.

TK: So how often did you do that?

MC: Well you’re queen for a year, and you do that for Independence Day, and if it’s a holiday, let’s say…. Every city has a party and you dress up and represent the army in every single social event for the city for a year.

TK: Is there a saying in Spanish that everyone says for Independence Day?

MC: Dia de la independence? Queen of the army in Spanish – raina de los militares.

TK: How old were you?

MC: When I was that? I was 14.

TK: You marched?

MC: Yes with the uniform, the army uniform and you go in the front. Like here, like the Rose Parade, like the princess goes in front.

TK: Where do you march?

MC: Around the city.

TK: What city?

MC: Santa Ana, El Salvador


INFORMANT: Maria, who has worked in our household for ten years and grew up in El Salvador. Her recollection was happy and nostalgic, laughing a lot as she retold this part of her life.


ANALYSIS: This segment shows one of the key differences between how America and El Salvador celebrate their respective Independence Days. Maria used contrasting language to explain that, while in America we just have fireworks, the celebration in El Salvador is more prolonged and involves a military parade and the naming of “queens” from the school and from the military, who retain that title for an entire year after the parade.