NATIONAL HOLIDAYS AND WHAT THEY MEAN
In addition to the main Christian religious holidays, such as Christmas and Boxing Day, Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday), and New Years Day, along with the main Muslim religious holidays including Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, below is a summary of the public holidays (and days of importance which are not public holidays) in Ghana, along with a bit of background on the relevance of each one.
Many businesses, private companies, banks and schools observe public holidays, whereas most shops remain open for trading.
- Constitution Day is a newly designated public holiday, which falls on the 7th January. It was first observed in 2019. This day marks the coming into effect of the 1992 Constitution and the birth of the Fourth Republic on this day back in 1993.
- Independence Day is an official state holiday and is celebrated annually on the 6th March. It marks the declaration of Ghana’s independence from the UK by Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah in 1957. This is probably the most significant holiday on the Ghanaian calendar, due to the fact that Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence, setting the standard for all other African countries still under colonial rule. This is an especially momentous day for Ghanaians, who take great pride in celebrating it. Full of fanfare, the day comprises of parades and ceremonies in all the major cities at stadiums or public places such as squares and monuments of historical importance.
- May Day (also known as International Workers Day or Labour Day) is a public holiday on 1st May and is in fact an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and has nothing to do with Ghana, however it is still designated as a public holiday as a celebration of labourers and working class people.
- Eid al-Fitr (festival of breaking the fast) is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide, including the Muslim community in Ghana. It marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan. It starts on the evening of the 23rd May and ends in the evening of the 24th.
- African Union Day (also known as Africa Day), although not an official public holiday, is still celebrated in Ghana. It falls on the 25th May and marks the commemoration of the First Congress of Independent African States, held in Accra on 15th of April 1958, convened by Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
- Republic Day takes place on the 1st July and celebrates when Dr Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed Ghana a republic and became its first president back in 1960. Republic day has also become known as Senior Citizens’ Day, a day to recognise the efforts and contributions of senior citizens to modern-day Ghana. Social events and public gatherings are common, however Republic Day is merely a commemorative day, and is not observed as a public holiday.
- Eid al-Adha is the second of two important Islamic holidays celebrated in Ghana and is considered the holier of the two. It begins on the evening of the 30th July and ends on the evening of the 31st.
- Founders Day, on the 4th August, is a national public holiday that celebrates the founding fathers of Ghana and the many others who contributed in securing Ghana’s freedom. This is an especially important dayin the local school calendar when members of the school community including students, governors, staff and friends, meet to commemorate those who founded the school and contributed to its development.
- Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day takes place on September 21st and commemorates the birthday of Ghana’s most-known independence leader, first prime minister, and first president. If September 21st falls on a weekend, the following Monday is observed as a holiday.
- Farmers Day falls on the first Friday in December and was introduced by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture as a day for the nation to honour its hard working farmers with certificates and prizes.