Discover the international public holiday dates you’re looking for with us! Public Holidays Global seeks to provide accurate holiday information to help people across the world plan for their local festivities and make the most of their long weekends.
Please choose your country or territory in the lists below to view public holiday dates for 2020, 2021 and future years. If you have any questions along the way, you can always get a quick answer by asking our team on Facebook.
Public holidays are days off from work that are usually officially announced by national or state governments. These announcements can be made years or months in advance, or even only a few days before the holiday takes place. These days off provide citizens the time to prepare for the festivities, celebrations, commemorations and ceremonies associated with the holiday.
In every country, some public holidays are taken more seriously than others. Some are solemn, while others are almost purely an opportunity for travel, fun and family activities. Public holiday long weekends are some of the most anticipated opportunities for travel and relaxation, and many countries around the world deliberately schedule holidays on Fridays and Mondays to help citizens maximise their time off.
How do public holidays come into existence?
In many cases, public holidays are the formalisation of religious festivals and special days that have existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. These days are usually connected to the world’s main faiths: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, or to older pagan feasts that have been appropriated by one of these faiths.
However, not all public holidays are religious in origin. The industrial revolution of the 19th century gave rise to one of the most widely celebrated public holidays around the world – Labour Day, also known as May Day and International Workers Day.
The political and geo-political tumult of the 20th century, with two world wars and major decolonisation of Asia and Africa, also resulted in scores of political and cultural public holidays created to mark the end of war, the independence that countries successfully secured, and to celebrate the lives of individuals who were key to struggles for freedom.
Public holidays as a tool to create national identity
It’s important to understand that public holidays are tools used by governments, interest groups and marketers to achieve their own ends. And many times the desired goals are well-intentioned: to ensure that future generations remember the struggles of the past, to build a national culture and identity, to give continued visibility to the historically foremost religion of the country, or to foster a new ethic such as racial or gender equality.
However, many festivals have been significantly leveraged by product marketers around the world to create entire seasons of the year with obligated spending on non-essential items. Marketers have taken something true or wholesome from particular holidays, and twisted them to encourage greater consumption.
The future of public holidays
While governments, interest groups and marketers seek to control the cultural narrative of public holidays, it’s important that every individual recognises the power they have to evolve the narrative. The meaning of each public holiday is not set in stone – it is all those who celebrate the public holidays who have the power to give them meaning.