Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CHAD: HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS


New Year’s Day (January 1).  There are a lot of festivities around this time, and many people celebrate the holiday with good food shared with friends and family. Like many other places, Chadians bring in the new year with fireworks displays and greetings of good fortune and well-being for the coming year.

Prophet’s birthday (varies).  Shia and Sunni Muslims have slightly different traditions for the Prophet’s birthday, otherwise known as Mawlid an Nabi.  This holiday celebrates the birth of the prophet Muhammad.  Special prayer services are held at mosques around the country.



International Women’s Day (March 8). In Chad, Women’s Day is a fairly large event.  The week prior to Women’s Day is known as SENAFET, or le Semaine Nationale de la Femme Tchadienne (National Chadian Women Week).  During this week, there are a range of activities, including races, contests, a day off of school for girls, community celebrations and parades but may also include educational seminars and programs in health and family care, etc.

Easter Monday (varies).  Most businesses and schools are closed on this day, the day after Easter. Christianity is followed by nearly a third of Chadians, and Easter is a major holiday for them. Many churches and missionary centers have special Easter Sunday services. Most people celebrate with a large luncheon afterwards. Easter Monday is generally treated as a day of rest. 

Labor Day (May 1).  Like most other countries that celebrate Labor Day, Chad also celebrates it on May 1. Most businesses and schools are closed on this day, and people use this day to spend with friends and family doing recreational activities and relaxing.

Eid al-Fitr (varies).  This Muslim holiday celebrates the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan. People generally celebrate with an elaborate feast held with friends and family.  Chadian Muslims will also attend special prayer services at their mosque. 



Independence Day (August 11). There are a lot of festivities that mark this day of independence from France back in 1960. There are speeches from various members of government, parades that wind their way through the streets, and many cities and towns have music concerts and dances in the streets as well as the ever-favorite soccer games. 

Eid al-Adha (varies). Also known as Feast of the Sacrifice, this is one of the major Muslim holidays. It’s centered around the story of Abraham attempt to sacrifice his only child because God asked him to. Traditionally, an animal is sacrificed and the meat is divided between the family, their relatives, and the needy. Nowadays, many people emphasize the practice of charitable giving. In Chad, this holiday lasts three days, and many businesses, schools, and government offices are closed.



All Saint’s Day (November 1).  All Saint’s Day is the Christian (and especially Catholic) holiday that celebrates all of the saints. Many saints already have their own feast days, but this holiday is used to celebrate all of them, including the ones that don’t already have a day of their own. Some Chadian Christians attend special church services, while everyone else enjoys the day off.

Republic Day (November 28). This is the day that Chad declared itself a republic after gaining independence. It’s celebrated in much of the same ways that Independence Day is celebrated, with festivities and parades and soccer games and such, and people decorate their cities with the national colors of red, yellow, and blue and proudly wave their flags.



Freedom and Democracy (December 1).  This day is in honor of Idriss Déby and the defeat of rebel commander Hissène Habré.  Habré was the former defense minister who was at the heart of a coup and put the country into chaos from 1983 until 1990 when Déby overtook the government and ousted the rebels. Most businesses and schools are closed on this day in remembrance of these events.

Christmas (December 25).  Many of the Christmas traditions in Chad were borrowed and introduced from European traditions, such as putting up Christmas trees and holly.  Although, I’m not sure if their trees are fake evergreens or if they substitute it for some local tree or shrubbery.  They also hang lights and teach their children to be good or Santa won’t bring them presents.  Most people celebrate this day with a special meal and spend time with family. 

Up next: art and literature

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