Uganda and 14 public holidays (part 1)

Uganda has many national holidays that allows workers to have days off and celebrate together, even the Electronic System of the Government. Therefore, the visa process may be postponed on these days.

1.    New Year’s Day 

Like most countries that follow the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day in Uganda falls on the first day of the year (January 1st), exactly one week after Christmas Day. Normally, government buildings and schools shut down for New Year’s Day, but today many private businesses remain open. People have celebrated since the night before New Year’s Day, which was called New Year’s Eve. What is commonly seen on this day is people staying up late and waiting for the stroke at midnight then displaying colorful firework. Because the largest religion in Uganda is Christianity (constituting over 80% of the population), you may find many churches hold mass meetings and worship all over the country.


Firework on New Year’s Eve in Kampala, Uganda


2.    National Resistance Movement (NRM) Liberation Day 

NMR Liberation Day is held on January 26th each year. This national holiday commemorates the historical date in 1986 when the NMR founded as liberation movement overthrew the corrupted government at that time. The Celebration typically begins on the day before the main ceremony date. Just like the New Year’s Day, people often gather in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city to wait for the firework.  On this day, there are also many feasts and sporting events. In addition, a military parade including all branches of the Uganda People’s Defense Force is specially held in Kampala. 





3.    Archbishop Janani Luwum Day

It has been celebrated on February 16th annually since 2015 in order to commemorate the life and dedication of Janani Luwum who was the former Archbishop and influential leader of Uganda’ Church from 1974 to 1977. He is typically regarded as having been murdered on the orders of the then-President Idi Amin. The date will now be a public holiday in Uganda with schools, offices and businesses closed. The first commemoration included a ceremony at his gravesite with close friends relaying the story of what he suffered prior to his death.




4.    International Women’s Day

In many countries, it is just a normal celebration, but in Uganda, International Women’s Day is declared as a national holiday that acknowledges and honors the contribution and sacrifice of Ugandan women, held on every March 8th. As the situation in most undeveloped countries, Ugandan women’s social status is still inferior to that of men. But these days, Government officials often hold gatherings where they encourage women to move forward in life and make them aware of the facilities that they are granted. They even inspire the women to access higher education and pursue higher status in business and government. 



Agwata women performed their special dance for the celebration for International Women’s Day 


5.    Good Friday 

Good Friday, also known as “Holy Friday” or “Great Friday” is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. Since Christianity is the largest religion in Uganda, this national holiday seems to be one of the most important holidays for all citizens. It is the Friday that precedes the resurrection Sunday and falls within the holy week in Christianity. Therefore, the exact date varies each year. Furthermore, some Christians avoid red meat on Good Friday. Good Friday exact date in the coming year 2020 is April 10th and 2021 is April 2nd. 




Good Friday is celebrated by many members of Christian denominations. Many church services are held from the noon to 3 pm to remember the hours when Jesus was hung on the cross


6.    Easter Monday

This is the following date after Easter Sunday and regarded as a continuation of the celebration, so there are variations in the exact date of Easter Monday. In the Easter Weekend (from Good Friday to Easter Monday, including Easter Sunday), every corner of the city will be quite busy with numbers of parties, music and sports events. On this occasion, people commonly do things which glorify God, desist from domestic violence, corruption, hence peace will present in their families, communities, and country at large. If you intend to visit Uganda, the most ideal time is traveling during the Easter holiday. 


Wearing bright, new clothes, exchanging gifts, decorating eggs, and feasting on local delicacies are all traditional customs of the celebrations.


7.    Labor Day

Ugandan people take Labor Day as a national holiday. In several other countries, Labor Day is also known as International Worker’s Day or May Day and held on the first of May. This is the holiday to honor the achievement of the worker movement, so all public schools, business, and the government are shut down. In this day off, people often spend time with their family, go picnic or just stay at their home for a rest.  




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