Some of these holidays didn’t have a lot of information as to traditions and that sort of thing. For some, I gathered information from a few blogs I found and a few sites that had some information, but I hope someone will enlighten me to fill in some blanks.
New Year’s Day. January 1. New Years celebrations in Cape Verde generally last two days. There is a lot of singing and music, and parades with singing and music. I read that on some islands, there’s a tradition that these musicians will parade through the streets gathering people like that Japanese game Katamari Damacy, and finally ending at the local hospital and playing as loud as they could so the sick people could hear it too. The new year is brought in by fireworks and long parties with food and drinks. Most businesses and schools are closed during this time.
Democracy Day. January 13. Also known as Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day. It marks the day of Cape Verde’s first election. They use this time as a means of studying Cape Verdean history in regards to civics lessons – discussing the roles of government and how government works. There are tours of the governmental buildings for students and special programs.
Heroes Day. January 20. This holiday somewhat runs into the Democracy Day celebrations and programs. It commemorates the assassination of Amílcar Cabral. He was an agricultural engineer and writer who was actually born in Guinea-Bissau but was prolific in the fight for independence of these two nations. Unfortunately, he was assassinated in 1973, eight months before Guinea-Bissau gained independence and about two years and a half years before Cape Verde would follow suit.
Carnival. February. Carnival is a fairly big affair in Cape Verde, and especially so on the island of São Vicente where tens of thousands of people show up for the festivities. (This island is the home of the famous morna singer Cesária Évora.) Music is also a very important aspect of Cape Verdean life, and for a culture that already uses music and dancing as a means of celebration, Carnival is a given to be a huge affair. In fact the Carnival celebrations on São Vicente have been considered by some to be the Carnival capital of Africa. Music festivals, theatre fests, local food vendors, and other cultural arts fests are also very popular across the islands during this time.
Labour Day. May 1. This day is in honor of the international workers of the world. It’s also a time to reflect and discuss labor issues. Most businesses and schools have this day off, and it becomes a day of relaxing with family and friends.
Children’s Day. June 1. At one time, Children’s Day was a huge festival. Schools would start two to three weeks ahead preparing for this day. There would be food and games, music and dance, theatre performances, treats, cards, special activities, and small presents for the kids. Today, there may not be such a push towards the blowout on celebrations – perhaps for economic reasons – but some of these things still go on. Just maybe on a smaller scale for some.
Independence Day. July 5. This day marks Cape Verde’s independence from Portugal I 1975. It’s a day commemorating the achievements and history of the island nation. Like with most other country’s independence days, the day is filled with speeches and appearances from political leaders, local festivals, including local food, music, dancing, and displays of other cultural arts. Every city and town is decorated with the national flag and its colors, and the national anthem is heard as well. In the countries where there are a lot of ex-pats, you can also find local festivals in honor of Independence Day.
Assumption. August 15. Also known as Feast of the Assumption of Mary, it celebrates the ascension of Mary into Heaven. Because Cape Verde has a large Catholic population, it commonly celebrated by most of the people.
National Day. September 12. Another national holiday, this also marks the birthday of Amílcar Cabral. Probably celebrated much in the same ways as Heroes Day. Not a whole lot of information on this.
All Saints’ Day. November 1. This is a mostly Catholic holiday, celebrating all of the saints, especially those who do not have their own feast days. I know in some countries people choose to decorate and do some upkeep to loved one’s gravesites at this time as well as attend a special mass, but I couldn’t find any definitive answer that Cape Verdeans take part in this tradition as well.
Christmas Day. December 25. Unfortunately, and weirdly enough, there’s not much information on specific Christmas traditions in Cape Verde. I’m sort of stunned. The country is by far majority Catholic, yet most of the information was that they just simply celebrate it. I imagine they probably celebrate it in many of the ways most Westerners are accustomed to, taking on many of the traditions of the Portuguese: decorating their homes and communities, sharing meals with family and friends (Cape Verdeans are very hospitable, even if they are poor), attending special church services, Christmas caroling, and exchanging gifts.
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