January 1 – New Years Day
This is where Guyana along with the rest of the world celebrates the dawn of a new year. Normally families in Guyana ensure that they are awake when the clock strikes 12:00 am to celebrate the New Year. In Guyana the New Year is normally ushered in with the sound of fireworks, fire crackers and loud cheering.
February 23 – Republic Day
On the 23rd February, 1970 Guyana was declared a Cooperative Republic within the Commonwealth of Nations. Guyana gained independence in 1966 but the British Monarchy still had some input in the affairs of the country. After the 23rd February, 1970 Guyana gained an Executive President with full autonomous powers.
Republic day is celebrated along with Mashramani which means celebration after hard work. On this day persons put on costumes and there is a grand parade down the streets of Georgetown, Guyana. Different companies and governmental agencies have bands with persons dressed with costumes and they all dance down the streets to different music.
Phagwah is a Hindu religious holiday celebrated in March. It represents the triumph of good over evil. In Guyana persons use coloured powders to put one each other’s faces and clothing. In some instances people use water to wet each other as they playfully celebrate the holiday.
This day commemorates the death of Jesus. According to History Jesus was crucified on Friday and rose early on Sunday. On Good Friday Guyanese bake Hot cross buns and share with each other. They also attend church and remember Jesus’ sacrifice.
This day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus. On this day in Guyana persons fly various kites in different shapes and sizes. A popular spot for kite flying is the National Park and the Georgetown Seawall.
May 1- Labour Day
This is an annual Holiday that celebrates the achievements of the Guyanese workforce. In Guyana persons dress in a red top and march down the streets to celebrate Labour day sometimes called ‘May Day’. Many workers both from the private and public sector participate in the annual May Day rally.
May 5-Arrival Day
This holiday commemorates the arrival of the Indian Indentured servants to Guyana. Different East Indian officials in Guyana organize various activities around the country to remind Guyanese of the arrival of East Indians. There is an Indian arrival monument where different tributes are brought to.
May 26 – Independence Day
On May 26, 1966 Guyana gained its independence from the British. On this Day in Guyana persons are reminded of the struggles that the country’s forefathers undertook to achieve independence. The government normally organizes flag raising along with televised messages informing citizens of the road to independence.
This holiday is observed on the first Monday in July. Guyana shares this holiday with other Caribbean countries. The holiday commemorates the signing of the treatise of Chaguaramas on the 4th July, 1973 between founding members Guyana, Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
August 1- Emancipation Day
The slaves were freed on the 1st August, 1838 in Guyana and this day is commonly known as Emancipation day. After more than a century of slavery, slaves were freed. On Emancipation or Freedom day various cultural shows are carried out around the country and person dress in their African wear and exchange African dishes.
Eid Ul Adha
Eid Ul Adha also called the Feast of Sacrifice is a Muslim holiday that commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son Isaac. In Guyana Muslims sacrifice cows and share the meat with the poor and the needy. The celebration of Eid Ul Adha is dictated by the sighting of the moon.
This is the festival of Lights. It is a Hindu holiday that commemorates the return of Lord Rama and his wife Sita from exile. It is said that his subjects lit their house with little lamps (diyas) so that Lord Rama and his wife could see as they returned during a dark night. In Guyana persons light diyas and also use fairy lights to celebrate this holiday. The date of the festival is decided upon by the Hindu lunar calendar.
This is a celebration of the birth of the prophet Muhammed who is the founder of the Islamic religious movement. In Guyana persons attend mosque and say special prayers in remembrance of the prophet’s birthday.
December 25 – Christmas Day
This holiday commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. It is believed that he came to live and die to redeem the human race. December 25, is a day chosen to remind persons of his birth. In Guyana special meals are prepared and the famous pepperpot and black cake is made around this time.
December 26 – Boxing Day
This is a holiday that is historically linked to the day after Christmas where workmen would receive a Christmas box from their employers. This holiday is celebrated in Guyana and other commonwealth countries. In Guyana persons take the time to visit family and friends and have social gatherings.
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