Public holidays in Rhodesia

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The Union Jack is raised atop a hill by a man in military uniform. Officers and men in the same uniform stand to attention. Covered wagons and makeshift buildings can be seen in the background.
Lieutenant Edward Tyndale-Biscoe hoists the Union Jack on the kopje overlooking Fort Salisbury on the morning of 13 September 1890. The day of the column's arrival, 12 September, was a national holiday between 1920 and 1979.

Public holidays in Rhodesia, a historical region in southern Africa equivalent to today's Zimbabwe and Zambia—formerly Southern and Northern Rhodesia, respectively—were largely based around milestones in the region's short history.[n 1] Annual holidays marked various aspects of the arrival of white people during the 1880s and 1890s, as well as the respective unilateral declarations of independence (1965) and of republican government (1970). On these days, most businesses and non-essential services closed. A number of Christian holidays were also observed according to custom, in the traditional British manner, and referred to in official documents by name—Christmas Day, for example, or Easter Monday.[1]

Rhodesian non-work days were first defined in 1895, by The Bills of Exchange Regulations passed by Leander Starr Jameson, the second administrator of the territory appointed by the British South Africa Company.[2] Holidays were instituted along traditional British lines, with some others created exclusively for Rhodesia: Shangani Day, on 4 December, marked the anniversary of the Shangani Patrol being killed in battle, while Rhodes' Day and Founders' Day—respectively commemorating Company chief Cecil Rhodes and his contemporaries—were held consecutively, starting on the first or second Monday of each July, to create the annual four-day "Rhodes' and Founders' weekend". Shangani Day was replaced as a public holiday by Occupation Day in 1920, but continued to be unofficially marked thereafter. Occupation Day, held on 12 September each year, marked the anniversary of the arrival of the Pioneer Column at Fort Salisbury in 1890, and their raising of the Union Jack on the kopje overlooking the site.[2] It was renamed Pioneers' Day in 1961.[3]

Southern Rhodesia effectively became the entirety of Rhodesia in 1964 when Northern Rhodesia became independent as Zambia. After Southern Rhodesia's colonial government unilaterally declared independence from Britain on 11 November 1965, the anniversary became celebrated as Independence Day.[1] The penultimate Monday in October was designated Republic Day in 1970 following the adoption of a republican system of government.[1] All of these holidays were celebrated until 1979, when Rhodesia reconstituted itself under majority rule as the unrecognised state of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. The country's national holidays were replaced soon after with alternatives intended to be more inclusive: President's Day, Unity Day and Ancestors' Day.[4] These were in turn superseded in April 1980, when the country became the recognised state of Zimbabwe. The modern Zimbabwean holiday calendar differs radically from that of Rhodesia, but retains every one of the traditional holidays defined by name in the 1895 Bills of Exchange Regulations, with the exception of Whit Monday.[5]

Rhodesian holidays[edit]

Key
  • Rhodesia The Rhodesian flag (1968–79) appears beside the names of those national holidays exclusive to Rhodesia.
  • "Years observed" refers to years when the holiday was official as a non-work day; traditional holidays such as Christmas were observed by Rhodesians before 1895, but no legal framework for public holidays had yet been enacted.
Name Date Years observed Notes
New Year's Day 1 January 1895–1979 Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895[1][6][7]
Good Friday Moveable feast 1895–1979 Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895[1][6][7]
Holy Saturday Moveable feast 1895–1979 Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895[1][6][7]
Easter Monday Moveable feast 1895–1979 Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895[1][6][7]
Whit Monday Moveable feast 1895–1979 Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895[1][6][7]
Rhodesia Rhodes' Day First or second Monday in July 1895–1979 One of the original Rhodesian holidays designated by The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895. Commemorated Cecil Rhodes' birthday (5 July 1853).[2][6][7]
Rhodesia Founders' Day The day after Rhodes' Day 1895–1979 One of the original Rhodesian holidays designated by The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895. Commemorated founders of white rule in the region other than Rhodes; deliberately placed directly following Rhodes' Day to create what became commonly known as the annual four-day "Rhodes' and Founders' weekend".[2][6][7][8]
Rhodesia Pioneers' Day 12 September 1920–1979 Created as Occupation Day by the Bank Holiday Amendment Ordnance, 1920, in place of Shangani Day.[2] Renamed Pioneers' Day by the Bills of Exchange Amendment, 1961.[3] Commemorated the anniversary of the arrival of the Pioneer Column at the site of Fort Salisbury in 1890, and their raising of the Union Jack on Salisbury Kopje, thereby marking the foundation of the city.[2][7]
Rhodesia Republic Day Second-to-last Monday in October 1970–1979 Commemorated the declaration of a republic on 2 March 1970. The government initially considered holding Republic Day on 11 November in place of Independence Day, but eventually settled on the second-to-last Monday in October. The date deliberately coincided with that month's mid-term school weekend (during which boarders returned home) as it had previously been the only one not extended by a public holiday.[1][9]
Rhodesia Independence Day 11 November 1966–1979 Commemorated the anniversary of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965.[1][7] Coincided with Armistice Day, the anniversary of the 1918 Armistice with Germany at the end of the First World War, which had been marked since 1919, but not as a public holiday.[2]
Rhodesia Shangani Day 4 December 1895–1920 One of the original Rhodesian holidays designated by The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895. Replaced as a public holiday with Occupation Day (later Pioneers' Day) in the Bank Holiday Amendment Ordnance, 1920, but still unofficially marked thereafter. Commemorated the anniversary of the Shangani Patrol's annihilation in 1893.[2][6]
Christmas Day 25 December 1895–1979 Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895[1][6][7]
Boxing Day 26 or 27 December 1895–1979 Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895. Generally the day after Christmas, but celebrated on 27 December where 26 December was a Sunday.[1][6][7]

Notes and references[edit]

Footnote
  1. ^ Rhodesia was demarcated and named under Сompany rule, which lasted from the 1890s to the 1920s. Northern Rhodesia was a British protectorate from 1924 to 1964, when it became independent as Zambia. Southern Rhodesia was, in British eyes, a self-governing colony from 1923 to 1980; between 1965 and 1979 it was an unrecognised state called Rhodesia (the Republic of Rhodesia from 1970), and latterly Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. It became Zimbabwe in 1980.
References
Online sources
  • "Zimbabwe's holidays". zim.gov.zw. Harare: Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Government of Zimbabwe. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
Newspaper articles
Bibliography
  • Fisher, J L (2010). Pioneers, settlers, aliens, exiles: the decolonisation of white identity in Zimbabwe. Canberra: ANU E Press. ISBN 978-1-921666-14-8. 
  • McWhirter, Norris; McWhirter, Ross (1969). Dunlop Illustrated Encyclopedia of Facts. New York: Doubleday. p. 766. 
  • Wilson, N H; Taylor, Guy A, eds. (1935). The Southern Rhodesia Native Affairs Department annual. Issues 13–18. Salisbury: Southern Rhodesia Native Affairs Department. pp. 164–168. 
  • Wood, J R T (June 2005). So far and no further! Rhodesia's bid for independence during the retreat from empire 1959–1965. Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4120-4952-8. 
  • "Bills of Exchange Amendment". The statute law of Southern Rhodesia: Acts of Parliament from 1st January to 31st December 1961 (Salisbury: Argus Printing and Publishing Company): 11–13. 1962. 
  • "Enactment of New Constitution Bill and Related Legislation". Keesing's Record of World Events (Cambridge: Keesing's) XVII: 23,810. February 1970. 
  • "Public Holidays". Rhodesia Calls (Salisbury: Rhodesia National Tourist Board): 48, 91. November–December 1972. 
  • "Southern Rhodesia: Bank Holidays or Non-Business Days". Board of Trade journal (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office) XLII: 609. 1903.