Carnival Week is a fun-filled festival just before Lent in mid February or early March. Stores close for almost a week and celebrations include masked dancing, comical skits, water fights and practical jokes. Murga bands (steel bands) roam the streets. Candombe is a popular dance at Carnival. It is a dance of African origins that dates from the days when Blacks worked as slaves in the Río de la Plata area. Bands of up to fifty musicians and dancers called Candomberos take part in Carnival processions. The musicians play tamboril drums of various sizes, producing complex rhythms for the dancers.
Most Uruguayans have a one-week holiday at Easter. The week before Easter is known as La Semana Criolla (Rodeo Week) in Montevideo. During this week, gauchos give performances of stunt riding and horse breaking. The Landing of the Treinta y Tres Orientales is celebrated on April 19. It commemorates the day in 1825 when Juan Antonio Lavalleja and 33 volunteers (the Treinta y Tres) marched into Uruguay from northern Argentina and began a rebellion against the Portuguese. On May 18, Uruguayans commemorate the Battle of Las Piedras, when José Gervasio Artigas defeated the Spanish near Montevideo in 1811.
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Festivals of music and dancing are held throughout the year in different towns and cities. Montevideo hosts a Candombe festival in May and a tango festival called Joventango in October.
Día de la Raza, or "Day of the Race" is celebrated on October 12, the day that Christopher Columbus landed in America. It is called "Day of the Race" because it marks the beginning of a new race of people living in South America.
January 1 New Year's Day
19 April Landing of the 33 Orientales
May 1 Labour Day
18 May Battle of Las Piedras
19 June Birthday of Artigas
18 July Constitution Day
25 August Independence Day
12 October Día de la Raza; Discovery of America
2 November Day of the Dead
25 December Family Day, Christmas