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The ‘ninth’ day of September? Recriminations after holiday amendment announced

Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2023. 3:44 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Government’s announcement on Wednesday that the St George’s Caye Day holiday on September 10, 2024, which is a Tuesday, will be given the preceding Monday, September 9, has caused confused questions in some quarters.

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs, told reporters in response that it is not unusual for the Monday holiday to be given in line with weekend activities leading up to the observance: “If you look at whenever we do have the Tenth holiday, and I am pretty sure this is not the first time we are moving it to a Monday, that is during our September celebrations and so you normally have events that are planned for that long weekend. Normally the Tenth and the twenty-first if they fall close to a Monday or a Friday, that is when the holiday is normally celebrated. And so you would have events like the Belikin Fest, the Carnival – these types of events are normally held during that time. And so that was the thinking behind it to move it to a long weekend and make it a Monday holiday instead of a Tuesday.”

But some including UDP Albert area representative Tracey Taegar-Panton insist that the Tenth is the Tenth and should not be moved. A statement from the St George’s Caye Day Society questioned whether the change “was not done with malice. It is the duty of the Government and people of Belize to safeguard nationalism and patriotism in commemoration of all our national heritage.”

The Holidays Act prescribes that all public and bank holidays are observed on their natural dates unless they fall on a Sunday, with the sole exceptions of National Heroes and Benefactors Day (March 9) and Indigenous People’s Resistance Day (October 12), which have the Monday given depending on where they fall on the calendar. (Commonwealth or Sovereign’s Day on May 24 was also exempted but is no longer on the holiday calendar). In 2024, Labour Day, which also falls mid-week, will be given as a Monday holiday on April 29.

In 2023, September 10 was a Sunday and the Monday was given as the holiday, but there were complaints from the churches about official activities being held on the Sunday and potentially disrupting church services.

Meanwhile, following uproar over a Monday holiday for Emancipation Day this year, 2024’s observance will be on a Thursday, August 1. (The UBAD Educational Foundation has clarified that the day should be referred to as “African Emancipation Day” but most countries in the Caribbean that observe it have long done so as Emancipation Day, with the understanding that it is referring to the emancipation of African-born slaves in the British Caribbean by the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.)

 

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