Certain holidays are celebrated by everyone with a day off (New Years, Easter, Labor Day, Independence Day, All Saint’s Day, and Christmas). The other days are generally recognized (and even other holidays that aren’t mentioned here), but if a business chooses to work on that day, it must pay its workers overtime to do so.
New Years Day (January 1): New Year’s Eve also coincides with Republic Day in this country. Most people do the usual celebrations: meet up with family and friends for a special meal and drinks to bring in the new year. Everyone wishes everyone good prosperity and fortune for the upcoming year.
Easter (varies): Because this country is majority Christian, Easter is a widely-celebrated holiday all over. Many people start their day off by attending special Easter services held at their church, followed by a special dinner and spending time with friends and family.
Easter Monday (varies): Government offices and schools are closed on this day, and people generally spend it resting and relaxing with family and friends.
Labor Day (May 1): The Republic of the Congo celebrates Labor Day along with most of the rest of the world with a day off. It’s also a day where labor issues and jobs are discussed. Some of the issues at hand include child labor (especially in rural areas and agricultural/fishing work environments), forced labor, work conditions, creating a minimum wage for agricultural workers, and weak unions causing prohibited worker demonstrations.
Ascension Day (varies, 40 days after Easter): This is the Christian celebration based on the belief that 40 days after Jesus rose on Easter, he then finally ascended into heaven.
Pentecost Sunday (varies, 7th Sundays after Easter): Many Christians believe that Pentecost is the “birthday” of the church itself. Before this, there were merely followers of Jesus, but it wasn’t organized. So this is beginning of the organized church as we sort of know it.
Reconciliation Day (June 10): There isn’t a lot of information on this holiday specifically. All I found was that it’s the commemoration of 1991 Conference on National Sovereignty, which I also learned was basically the beginning of the transition between Congo as a one-party controlling state to Congo as a multi-party democratic state.
Independence Day (August 15): Also tied in with the Three Glorious Days, this holiday celebrates Congo Brazzaville’s independence from France in 1960. The Three Glorious Days took place just prior to the declaration of independence and were the three days of rioting against then Prime Minister Youlou after he established a one-party state and one legal trade union. After those three days’ fighting, he and some of his main supporters were arrested by the military and forced out of participating in political affairs again.
All Saints Day (November 1): Because around 50% of the population is Catholic, many Congolese celebrate All Saints Day. This celebration is for all saints, especially those who do not already have a specific feast day.
Christmas Day (December 25): Christmas in the Republic of the Congo doesn’t quite have the same luster as it does in wealthier countries. For those who can afford it, Christmas is often celebrated with roast beef or mutton. Some people in the coastal city of Pointe-Noire receive gifts of fresh vegetables, exotic fruits and fresh catfish. (Who wouldn’t love THAT? That sounds like the best gift ever.) Special Christmas services are held at churches where children perform nativity skits.
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