Public holidays in Rhodesia
Public holidays observed in Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe in 1980) were largely based around milestones in the country's short history. Annual holidays marked various aspects of the arrival of white people to the country 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.
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. Holidays were instituted along traditional British lines, with some others created exclusively for Rhodesia: Shangani Day, celebrated annually 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. It was renamed Pioneers' Day in 1961.
The date on which the Rhodesian government unilaterally declared the country's independence from Britain in 1965, 11 November, was thereafter celebrated as Independence Day. When a republican system of government was then adopted in March 1970, the penultimate Monday in October was designated Republic Day. All of these holidays were celebrated until 1979, when Rhodesia was reconstituted under majority rule as the internationally-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. These were in turn superseded following internationally-recognised independence in April 1980, when the country became Zimbabwe.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.
- The Rhodesian flag 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.
|New Year's Day||1 January||1895–1979||Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895|
|Good Friday||Moveable feast||1895–1979||Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895|
|Holy Saturday||Moveable feast||1895–1979||Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895|
|Easter Monday||Moveable feast||1895–1979||Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895|
|Whit Monday||Moveable feast||1895–1979||Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895|
|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).|
|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 the country other than Rhodes; deliberately placed directly following Rhodes' Day to create what became commonly known as the annual four-day "Rhodes' and Founders' weekend".|
|Pioneers' Day||12 September||1920–1979||Created as Occupation Day by the Bank Holiday Amendment Ordnance, 1920, in place of Shangani Day. Renamed Pioneers' Day by the Bills of Exchange Amendment, 1961. 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 and, by extension, the country.|
|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.|
|Independence Day||11 November||1966–1979||Commemorated the anniversary of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965. 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.|
|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 Major Allan Wilson's death at the head of the Shangani Patrol in 1893.|
|Christmas Day||25 December||1895–1979||Statutory public holiday, defined by name in The Bills of Exchange Regulations, 1895|
|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.|
- Online sources
- "Zimbabwe's holidays". zim.gov.zw. Harare: Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity, Government of Zimbabwe. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- Newspaper articles
- "Rhodesia's First Day as a Republic Passes Quietly". The New York Times. 3 March 1970. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- "Rhodesia's Quiet Republic Day". The Glasgow Herald. 20 October 1970. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
- 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.