Public holidays in Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico celebrates all official U.S holidays,[1] and a number of other official holidays established by the Commonwealth government. Additionally, many municipalities celebrate their own Patron Saint Festivals (fiestas patronales in Spanish), as well as festivals honoring cultural icons like Bomba y plena, danza, salsa, hamacas (hammocks), and popular crops such as plantains and coffee.

Until June 30, 2014, there were 19 public holidays in Puerto Rico. As a result of a new Commonwealth law, after July 1, 2014, the Commonwelath government consolidated three of its former holidays (Luis Muñoz Rivera, José Celso Barbosa, and Luis Muñoz Marín) into just one called Día de los Próceres Puertorriqueños (The Day of Illustrious Puerto Ricans), and reducing the number of holidays observed publicly to fifteen. As part of the new law, the third Monday of February became Día de los Próceres Puertorriqueños when, in addition to commemorating the birth of those three illustrious Puerto Ricans will also include commemorating the birthdays of four other illustrious Puerto Ricans - Ramón Emeterio Betances, Román Baldorioty de Castro, Ernesto Ramos Antonini and Luis A. Ferré. The law mandated that the Eugenio Maria de Hostos holiday and the Jose de Diego holiday would continue to be observed on their respective days as usual.[2][3]

Official public holidays[edit]

Official public holidays are those recognized by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico government. All public offices must close. Many businesses also elect to close. These public holidays include both federal and commonwealth-established holidays, since Puerto Rico recognizes all U.S. federal holidays.

Date English name Local name (in Spanish) Remarks
January 1 New Year's Day Día de Año Nuevo As in most countries, this holiday is celebrated with gatherings and fireworks. Although illegal, celebratory gunfire has sometimes led to injuries and even deaths on certain occasions.[4]
January 6 Three Kings Day/
Epiphany
Día de Reyes This is a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico official holiday, as well as a religious holiday. It celebrates the Three Wise Men's visit to see the newborn Christ by exchanging gifts. Traditionally, children stack bundles of hay in boxes under their beds for each Wise Man's camel, to then find their boxes exchanged for gifts.[5]
January 11 Birthday of Eugenio María de Hostos Natalicio de Eugenio María de Hostos This is a Commonwealth of Puerto Rico official holiday. In recent years it has been celebrated on the 2nd Monday of January. Eugenio María de Hostos (1839–1903) was a writer and statesman who struggled for Puerto Rican independence and the end to slavery in the late 19th century.
Third Monday in January Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Natalicio de Martin Luther King, Jr.
A federal and commonwealth official holiday.
Third Monday in February Presidents' Day, Washington's Birthday Día de los Presidentes

Natalicio de Washington

A federal and commonwealth official holiday.
February 18 Birthday of Luis Muñoz Marín Natalicio de Luis Muñoz Marín Luis Muñoz Marín (1898–1980), was the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico. He founded the Partido Popular Democrático and was instrumental in establishing the Commonwealth status in 1952. He was a noted journalist and poet, and served four terms as governor. His birthday is now celebrated concurrently with Washington and Lincoln.
March 22 Emancipation Day Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud A Commonwealth of Puerto Rico official holiday. Slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico in 1873 while the Island was still a colony of Spain.
Friday in late March or early April Good Friday Viernes Santo An official public holiday and a religious holiday; see notes below in the religious holidays section.
April 16 Birthday of José de Diego Natalicio de José de Diego A Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (ELA) official holiday. José de Diego (1867–1918) was a much-loved poet and political leader. In recent years, the holiday has been celebrated on the third Monday of April.
Last Monday of May Memorial Day Recordación de los Muertos de la Guerra A federal and commonwealth official holiday.
July 4 Independence Day Día de la Independencia de los Estados Unidos
Día de la Independencia
A federal and commonwealth official holiday.
Third Monday of July Birthday of Don Luis Muñoz Rivera Natalicio de Don Luis Muñoz Rivera A Commonwealth of Puerto Rico holiday, celebrated in recent years on the 4th of July. Don Luis Muñoz Rivera (1859–1916) was a prominent journalist, poet, and politician who advocated independence from Spain and later, the United States. His son Luis Muñoz Marín was the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico.
July 25 Constitution of Puerto Rico Day Constitución de Puerto Rico An official Commonwealth of Puerto Rico holiday. See also Constitution of Puerto Rico. Formerly called Occupation Day, commemorating the anniversary of the landing of American troops at Guánica in 1898.
July 27 Birthday of Dr. José Celso Barbosa Natalicio de Dr. José Celso Barbosa Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (ELA) holiday. Dr. José Celso Barbosa (1857–1921) was a medical doctor and an early advocate of statehood, founder of the Republican Party on the Island.
First Monday in September Labor Day Día del Trabajo A federal and commonwealth official holiday.
Second Monday in October Columbus Day Día de la Raza
Descubrimiento de América
A federal and commonwealth official holiday.
November 11 Veterans Day Día del Veterano
Día del Armisticio
A federal and commonwealth official holiday, usually observed at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery.
November 19 Discovery of Puerto Rico Día del Descubrimiento de Puerto Rico A Commonwealth of Puerto Rico official holiday. Christopher Columbus (Don Cristóbal Colón) landed on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico near Aguada on his second voyage to the New World in 1493.
Fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day Acción de Gracias

Día de Acción de Gracias

A federal and commonwealth official holiday. It marks the beginning of the Holiday (Christmas) season.
December 24 Christmas Eve Noche Buena
Nochebuena
A Commonwealth of Puerto Rico official holiday,[citation needed] sometimes only a half-day of work
December 25 Christmas Día de Navidad

Navidad
Nacimiento del niñito Jesús
Día del niño Jesús

During Spanish colonial rule (1492 to 1898),"Navidad" (Christmas in English), marked the Christian ecumenical celebration date of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Is not until the development of the commercialization of Christmas, product of the subsequent American colonial rule, that "Navidad" becomes the delivery day for Santa Claus. As in the United States, Santa Claus leaves Christmas presents under the "Arbolito" Christmas tree. This has replaced in large part, but not entirely, the gift giving custom of Puerto Ricans in Three Kings Day. No other country celebrates a holiday for so long. Many countries celebrate Christmas for a couple of days, or as long as four or five. In Puerto Rico, however, the celebration starts after Thanksgiving and ends in the third week of January, on the last day of the St. Sebastian Street Festival in Old San Juan.

Religious holidays[edit]

Date English name Local name (in Spanish) Remarks
January 5 Eve of Epiphany Víspera de los Tres Reyes Magos Puerto Rican children leave a box with grass for the camels of the Three Wise Men and a glass of water for the magos themselves.
January 6 Three Kings Day

Epiphanys
Twelfth Night

Día de los Tres Reyes Magos Children find that the camels ate the grass and the Three Kings drank the water left for them the day before. Traditionally the Kings leave presents under the children's beds.
the week before Ash Wednesday Carnival Carnaval Like other Catholic cultures (Brazil, Trinidad, Louisiana), the solemn 40 days of Lent are preceded in Puerto Rico by a massive blow-out with elaborate costumes and parades. In the city of Ponce, in particular, Carnival time means characters in the streets wearing incredible horned-devil masks, called vejigantes.
First day of Lent Ash Wednesday Miércoles de Ceniza Devout Roman Catholics abstain from eating meat or poultry on this day. Many attend church services.
Sunday before Easter Sunday Palm Sunday Domingo de Ramas  
Palm Sunday through Easter Holy Week Semana Santa Most schools, colleges, and universities give the complete week as a recess to students.
Friday before Easter Good Friday Viernes Santo This is the most solemn day of the whole year on the island. All businesses close.
Easter Easter Domingo de la Resurrección

Domingo de Pascuas

 
June 24 Saint John's Day Día de San Juan Bautista

Fiestas de San Juan

Since John the Baptist is the patron saint of the Island and the namesake of the capital city (San Juan), his day is widely celebrated by big parties on the beaches on the Eve of St. John's Day (June 23). One tradition is to walk backward into the ocean and fall in 12 times at midnight on the beginning of the 24th.
December 24 Christmas Eve Nochebuena

Día de Nochebuena

Christmas traditions in Puerto Rico include a large supper with families and friends on Christmas Eve, and the Midnight Mass or misa de gallo. Anytime during las navidades neighbors and friends make a parranda or asalto, going from house to house singing Puerto Rican Christmas carols. Once everything has been eaten and drunk, the erstwhile 'host' joins the trulla and they all go to somebody else's house to eat and drink.
December 28 Day of the Innocents, Festival of the Masks Día de los Innocentes

Día de las Máscaras en Hatillo

A Christmas season tradition in the town on Hatillo on the north coast. Similar to Mardi Gras "crewes" in Louisiana, teams of friends completely cover cars, trucks, and floats with elaborate frilly decorations, and wearing head-to-toe costumes, while cruising the country roads, and playing practical jokes along the way. There is a not-to-be missed half-day long parade, full of loud noise and brilliant colors. The tricksters commemorate Herod's soldiers and the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Puerto Rico description". WelcometoPuertoRico.org. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  2. ^ A solo una firma para reducir días feriados: Ahora serían 15 los días oficiales. El Nuevo Dia. 30 June 2014.
  3. ^ Legislatura acuerda reducir los días feriados. Rebecca Banuchi. Primera Hora. 30 June 2014.
  4. ^ Frank Griffiths (2003-01-06). "Niña abatida por una supuesta bala perdida en Nochevieja muere en un hospital puertorriqueño". Puerto Rico Herald. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  5. ^ "Glossary". Welcome.toPuertoRico.org. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 

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