Most public holidays in Burundi mark events in national history and the Christian religion. An important political holiday is Independence Day, but the biggest celebration occurs on New Year's Day. During the week before New Year's day, people clean and decorate their homes. If they can, they buy new clothes for all members of the family. Friends and relatives are invited to feast and catch up with family news. The day usually ends with dancing and drumming, in which everyone takes part.

The government observes Independence Day in July with speeches and official functions. Government employees, the military and urban dwellers are more likely to participate in formal commemoration of national holidays than people in rural areas. For farmers and poor families, holidays are not as meaningful because there is always work to be done and there is little money for feasting or celebrating.

The anniversaries of the assassinations of Prince Rwagasore in 1961 and President Ndadaye in 1993 are commemorated by the laying of wreaths on their tombs. Prince Louis Rwagasore, the eldest son of King Mwambutsa IV and leader of the Union of National Progress (UPRONA) political party, was a radical intellectual Tutsi, educated in Belgium. He married a Hutu woman and became a symbol of national unity. When the UPRONA party won the election of 1961, before the country became independent, the prince was expected to lead the government. People hoped that he would return the country to stability. Unfortunately, he was assassinated shortly after the election. The victory of the UPRONA party in 1961 is also the occasion of a national holiday on September 18.
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Unity Day on February 5 was instituted by President Buyoya to remind people that unity is important and worth striving for.
Major Christian festivals are celebrated with church services and sometimes with family gatherings and special meals. These festivals include Easter, Ascension Day, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and All Saints' Day. Some families have adopted the custom of giving gifts to children and exchanging cards on Christmas Day.

January 1 New Year's Day
February 5 Unity Day
March or April Easter
May 1 Labour Day
May or June Ascension Day
July 1 Independence Day
August 15 Assumption Day
September 18 Victory of the UPRONA Party
October 13 Anniversary of Prince Rwagasore's Assassination
October 21 Anniversary of President Ndadaye's Assassination
November 1 All Saints' Day
December 25 Christmas Day