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.
Did you know?|
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
||New Year's Day|
|March or April
|May or June
||Victory of the UPRONA Party|
||Anniversary of Prince Rwagasore's
||Anniversary of President Ndadaye's
||All Saints' Day|