In 2008, Chile declared Reformation Day to be a new annual public holiday in honour of the evangelical and Protestant churches. In 2018, Reformation Day falls on Friday 2 November.
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The date of Reformation Day – the Friday closest to 31 October – coincides with the day in 1517 when Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation by pinning his “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as “The 95 Theses,” on the door of a German church. Only Slovenia and some German states also recognise the day as a public holiday.
In 1517, Martin Luther wrote to the Archbishop of Mainz and Madeburg, protesting sale of “indulgences.” In the Catholic Church, indulgences were ways to reduce punishment one must undergo after sinning. In 1517, Johann Tetzel, who was the papal commissioner for indulgences, came to Germany in order to sell indulgences as a way to raise money to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Luther condemned the sale of indulgences, claiming that someone who sinned could not buy salvation in the form of an indulgence. On October 31, 1517, Luther posted the letters on All Saints Church, an event that has been credited with starting the Protestant Reformation as the letters were quickly translated and distributed throughout Germany and eventually Europe.
Although more than 70 percent of the population of Chile is roman Catholic, over the past few decades Evangelical and Protestant faiths have grown with more than 15 percent of the population claiming one of these religions. In an effort to recognise this growing trend, the government declared the new Reformation Day public holiday.