Monday, April 9, 2012


Angola has several public holidays during the year; however, only a two of which are religious-based (Christmas and Easter). A little more than half of its population practice some form of Christianity introduced from the Portuguese, while the remaining 47% follow various indigenous belief systems. Two holidays celebrated in Angola are movable holidays: Easter and Carnival (celebrated the days before Lent starts).

 January 1: New Years Day.  Many of the same holiday traditions are found in Angola as the rest of the world. There are lots of parties with friends and family, lots of food and drinking. These festivities are still going on from Christmas.  There's not a whole lot of information out there on real Angolan traditions for celebrating New Years. 

January 25: Luanda’s Day. Luanda is one of the oldest cities in Africa (436 years old this year [2012]). The day is celebrated with lots of music, dancing, food, art displays, and several walking and bus tours of the city.

February 4: Day of the Armed Struggle. This is held in memory of the Baixa de Cassanje revolt (1961). Workers at a cotton plant started to protest for better working conditions. While this was going on, some of the workers started burning their ID cards and even physically assaulted the some Portuguese traders who were on the plant grounds. Instead of dealing with those who were directly involved, the Portuguese authorities responded by calling for an air raid – on twenty nearby towns, killing a vast number of people. Most estimates are between 400 and 7000, depending on who’s giving the estimate.

Usually mid-late February: Carnival.  Carnival in Angola is celebrate much the same as in other locations, probably more closer to how it’s celebrated in Brazil or like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana (USA). There are parades with floats and people dance and are dressed in quite elaborate costumes. At night there are huge parties all over, and from the looks of it, people will dress in all different kinds of costumes – making it look more like a Halloween party. And of course, the less clothes the women wear, the more popular they seem to be.

March 8: International Women’s Day.  A day acknowledged and celebrated in 176 countries, it’s a celebration aimed at supporting women and women’s issues and connecting with women all over the world.

Late March to late April: Easter. Like most Christians in the world who celebrate Easter, Christian Angolans will celebrate by attending Easter service at church. Many families spend the time with each other, eating, and celebrating much like other areas that celebrate Easter.

April 4: Day of Peace and Reconciliation.  This marks the end of the Angolan Civil War. There are usually soccer games and religious services. It’s a day surrounded by talks of peace and especially for peace in the future as well.

May 1: Labor Day. Businesses are closed on this day.  It’s a time to spend with families and friends.

May 25: Africa Day.  This is a day in remembrance of the colonial days and for Africans who have died in the struggles for independence. Many of the Africans countries that partake in the Africa Day celebrations will have a number of cultural arts displays, music concerts, and soccer games. 

June 1: International Children’s Day.  Many non-for-profit and government organizations help to promote good health, literacy, and education while trying to fight the problems that poverty, homelessness and orphanhood that has arisen from years of civil war.

September 17: Agostinho Neto’s Day/National Heroes Day.  This is in celebration of Augostino Neto’s birthday. He was the first president of Angola and was also a reputable poet as well.

November 2: All Soul’s Day.  This is a day of giving alms and spent in remembrance of those who have already passed away. Many churches will pray for the dead with the intention of helping them to get out of purgatory.

November 11: Independence Day. Since many of the indigenous arts were banned during the war, there are often displays of music, dancing, and visual arts.

December 25: Christmas. You’ll find many of the typical European Christmas traditions in Angola as well. Schools close, and you’ll find carolers and decoration-clad buildings.  Angolans love to celebrate with many parties lasting from Christmas on through New Years. One of the traditions around this time is to eat a sweet cake called bolo-rei (king-cake) that is formed like a crown. It’s full of raisins, nuts, and fruits and was introduced by the Portuguese. The cake is usually made with a fava bean (whoever receives this slice has to make the cake next year) and a surprise (whoever receives this slice gets good luck for the next year). It sounds to me an awful lot like a fruitcake. Maybe the surprise is that this was actually last year’s bolo-rei??

Up next: Art and Literature

Wikipedia: “Public Holidays in Angola” “Agostinho Neto” “Angolan literature”"Carnival"

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