Like numerous other countries across the globe, Nigeria has several officially recognized holidays. These include those observed internationally, those related to Nigeria's history, and others that are observed in select states only. These holidays typically give people days off work and school, making them essential to the country's calendar. What are the different public holidays in Nigeria, and what do they signify?
Most of the major holidays in Nigeria involve national affairs such as independence and self-rule, religious affairs such as Islamic and Christian beliefs, and international affairs such as matters of workers' rights.
The different public holidays in Nigeria
|New Year's Day||January 1||International||All|
|State Holiday||February 23||Regional||Enugu|
|Public Holiday||April 11||Regional||Katsina|
|Good Friday||April 15||International||All|
|Easter Sunday||April 17||International||All|
|Labour/Workers' Day||May 1 (2)||International||All|
|Eid al Fitr||May 4||International||All|
|Democracy Day||June 12 (13)||National||All|
|Eid ul Adha||July 10||International||All|
|Independence Day||October 1||National||All|
|Thanksgiving Day in Bayelsa State||November 2||Regional|
|Public Holiday in Anambra State||November 16||Regional||Anambra|
|Sambisa Memorial Day in Borno State||December 22||Regional||Borno|
|Boxing Day||December 26||International||All|
Here is a look at the 2022 calendar with public holidays in Nigeria.
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1. New Year's Day – January 1
Nigeria is ethnically, religiously, and culturally diverse. Still, one occasion that is jointly celebrated across all populations in the country is New Year's Day. In some cultures across the country, people gather in churches and mosques on the night of December 31 to celebrate and pray for the year ahead.
Masquerades are also common from midnight on December 31 to the morning of New Year's Day as a form of ritual cleansing and seeking blessings.
2. Good Friday - April 15
Good Friday, also referred to as Great Friday or Holy Friday, is a significant Christian holiday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as well as his death at Calvary. Good Friday dates vary from year to year.
The holiday is usually marked on the immediate Friday before Easter Sunday and often falls on the first full moon of the Paschal calendar after March 21. Sometimes, this holiday coincides with the Jewish Passover event.
3. Easter Sunday - April 17
The Easter Sunday holiday is known as Pascha in Latin and Greek). The holiday marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is among the most important Christian holidays in Nigeria and the world over. Since the holiday comes on a Sunday, Nigerians typically get a holiday on the Monday after that.
The exact dates for this holiday vary from year to year.
4. Labour/Workers' Day – May 1 (observed on May 2)
Labour Day is an international holiday that is marked on May 1 every year. In Nigeria, the holiday is known as Workers Day. Workers Day is an annual public holiday meant to celebrate the achievements of workers in Nigeria. The holiday has its origins in the labour union movement, credited with the eight-hour day movement.
Since May 1 2022, was on a Sunday, Workers Day was celebrated on Monday, May 2.
5. Eid al Fitr – May 4
This is one of the official holidays observed by Muslims in Nigeria. The holiday marks the end of the holy month of Ramadhan and the start of Shawwal. The exact Eid al Fitr dates vary every year and primarily depend on the lunar cycle.
While Eid al Fitr is an Islam holiday, it is observed as a public holiday in Nigeria.
6. Democracy Day - June 12 (observed on June 13)
Democracy Day is a national public holiday in Nigeria. The holidays used to be observed in May 2019 until the new date was decided on June 6, 2018. The holiday marks the day the military handed over power to an elected civilian government in 1999.
This handing over marked the start of the longest civilian rule since Nigeria's independence from colonial rule in 1960. Common activities on Democracy Day include a national address by the president and large public celebrations hosted in Eagle Square in the capital city of Abuja.
7. Eid ul Adha (Eid el Kabir) – July 10
Eid al Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, is the second important holiday for Muslims in Nigeria. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his only son Ismael to Allah. Eid al Adha is typically observed as a public holiday in Nigeria.
Id el Kabir happens on the tenth day of Dhu'l-Hijja, which is the twelfth month in a Muslim lunar calendar. This means that there is no specific date for Eid ul Adha; its determination depends on the lunar cycle. While the holiday itself is just one day, the festivities can last a week but often goes for 2-4 days.
During Id el Kabir, devoted Muslims travel to the Saudi Arabian Mecca on pilgrimage to re-enact Ibrahim's sacrifice. Others who cannot travel typically gather in outdoor areas and local mosques for sermons and prayers, dressed up in their finest clothes.
8. National Day/Independence Day – October 1 (observed on October 3)
Independence Day is an official national holiday in Nigeria, usually celebrated on October 1 every year. It marks the country's proclamation of independence from British rule on October 1 1960. The day's celebrations officially begin with a presidential speech, which is broadcasted to the nation on TV and radio.
What follows is a flag-raising ceremony, followed by the army moving down the streets of Abuja in a parade. The soldiers engage in various Nigerian dances while people from all of Nigeria's states join in the festivities.
Since October 1 will be on a Saturday, Independence Day will be observed on October 3, 2022.
9. Christmas – December 25
Christmas Day is an international public holiday marked by billions of people in most countries across the globe. The date marks the birth of Jesus Christ and is one of the most important dates for Christians worldwide.
In Nigeria, Christmas Day is considered a special time for people to spend with their families, and it is the one time most people travel from their city workplaces to their rural homes.
10. Boxing Day - December 26
Boxing Day is celebrated after Christmas Day. It originated as a holiday to give gifts to the poor and for rich people to gift their servants. Today, Boxing Day is mostly dedicated to relaxing at home with one's family.
State-specific (regional) holidays
Besides national public holidays, some Nigerian states have public holidays that only affect people in those states. Here is a look at the country's state-specific holidays (often known as regional holidays).
- February 23: State Holiday in Enugu State
- April 11: Public Holiday in Katsina State
- November 2: Thanksgiving Day in Bayelsa State
- November 16: Public Holiday in Anambra State
- December 22: Sambisa Memorial Day in Borno State
Is tomorrow a public holiday in Nigeria?
No, tomorrow (May 22 2022) is not a public holiday in Nigeria.
When is the next public holiday in Nigeria?
The next Nigeria public holiday will be Independence Day on June 12. Since the day falls on a Sunday, the holiday will be observed on Monday, June 13.
There are several public holidays in Nigeria. The days include international, national, local (state), and religious holidays. These days are essential since most people typically get days off work and school. Additionally, when most of the holidays fall on a weekend, they are observed on the next Monday, essentially lengthening the weekend.
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