We thought Rosario was one of Argentina’s most ordinary cities in the country. Nope, it isn’t. One morning we went for a walk and noticed lots of people were gathering along the sides of the streets. Some parts were fenced off, others weren’t. We had stumbled upon Día de la Bandera Nacional, or Flag Day, which is one of Argentina’s national holidays (read about it here).
Each year Argentineans honor their flag and commemorate its creator, General Manual Belgrano. He hoisted it for the first time near the Paraná River, opposite Rosario, in 1812.
One of the particularities of this occasion is that the civilians carry the country’s longest flag through the streets. This is just one of the examples of extraordinary celebrations Argentina has. There are many more. For example, have you ever heard of the Day of the Unborn Child, or Boyfriend’s Day? Some that raise an eyebrow: Day of the Asshole, and Day of the Goalkeeper?
In fact, Argentina has some 150 days per year dedicated to national and public holidays. How many there are varies per month. February with only three commemorative days stands in contrast to October, which has about twenty of them.
It takes a while to understand the nuances in Argentina’s maze of holidays, not in the least because Argentinians themselves may not familiar with all of them. So I decided to do a blog post on the subject, trying to make some sense of it all.
Whether they make sense to you or not, just join and enjoy them!
The Difference between National Holidays and Public Holidays
National holidays (feriados nacionales) are non-working days whereas public holidays (fiestas publicas) are dedicated to a religious celebration, but remain normal working days. The latter include days such as Epiphany, Carnival, Corpus Christi and All Saints’ Day. In Argentina the Spanish word feriado in general implies a non-working day.
Unique Holidays in Argentina
Some Argentinian national holidays are also celebrated worldwide, such as New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Labor Day (May 1st), and Christmas.
Other national holidays are specific for Argentina:
- March 24th: Día National de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia commemorates the start of the Golpe de Estado (Military Junta) on March 24, 1976.
- April 2nd: Día del Veterano y de los Caídos en la Guerra de Malvinas. This national holiday pays homage to the veterans and war victims of the Falklands War.
- June 20th: Día de la Bandera Nacional, also called Flag Day, honors the Argentinian flag and to commemorate its creator. During Flag Day in Rosario, Argentina’s longest flag is carried around the town.
- August 17th: Aniversario de la muerte del general José de San Martín. This national holiday commemorates the day of death of Argentina’s leader and hero in the struggle for Argentina’s independence: San Martín.
- October 12th: Día de la Raza. On this day the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492 is commemorated.
Whereas most national holidays are fixed, some are ‘flexible’. For example, Flag Day and the day of San Martín are both moved to the third Monday of that particular month. On other national holidays, such as the Day of the Veterans and War Victims of the Falkland War and Día de la Raza, the national holiday is moved to the Monday prior or following the official date. This is done to create a long weekend. Often these days go by unnoticed except for the fact that government buildings, schools and sometimes shops are closed.
Argentina also acknowledges several non-Christian, religious holidays, which are considered non-working days for people of the relevant faiths. Among these are: Day of Atonement (Judaism), New Year’s Day (indigenous people), End of Ramadan (Muslims).
Celebratory Days to Honor Family Members
In many countries Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated. A look at the Argentinean calendar demonstrates the love Argentineans have for their family members and family relationships:
- March 2nd: Day of Marriage
- March 4th: Brother’s Day
- March 25th: Day of the Unborn Child
- first Sunday of April: Girlfriend’s Day
- third Sunday of April: Godparents’ Day
- second Sunday of May: Day of Godchildren and Grandchildren
- third Sunday of June: Father’s Day
- second Sunday of August: Children’s Day
- second Sunday of August: Grandfather’s Day
- first Sunday of September: Aunt’s Day
- September 24th: Boyfriend’s Day
- October 6th: World Children’s Day
- October 26th: Brother-in-Law’s Day
- third Sunday of October: Mother’s Day
- second Sunday of November: Grandmother’s Day
Even though many of these go by unnoticed, there is an increasing publicity in cities for a day such as ‘Grandchildren’s Day’, when grandparents are encouraged to shower their grandchildren with gifts.
Other Celebrations: Professions and Industries
Many professions have been granted a special day, officially or unofficially. Some of the professions honored are: photographers, brewers, journalists, editors, sculptors, investigators, decorators, translators, taxi drivers, graphic designers, professors, football players, bankers, biologists, inventors, dentists, actors, pharmacists, psychologists, architects, teachers.
Apart from internationally known holidays like Valentine’s Day, Animals’ Day, International Women’s Day, Argentina has celebrations that are dedicated to, for example: Transportation, Health, Kinesiology, Marketing, the Neighbour, Dogs, Employers, Employees, Friends, Culture, Television, Medicines, Industry, Retired people, Federal Police, Tango, National Theatre.
Day of the Asshole and Day of the Goalkeeper
In accordance with the wondrous Argentinian way of life, flexible, where nothing is fit into a straightjacket, the lists of these holiday celebrations, apart from the national and public holidays, seem somewhat flexible as well. Different lists may point out distinct celebratory days.
Which ones are truly established and have national value, or which have been made up by a small group, such as the Dia del Boludo (Day of the Asshole) remains a mystery, or the opinion of one particular person. In most cases, you can only guess at their origins.
“In Argentina, there is a day for everybody, except for the goalkeeper,” is an Argentinian saying. Poor goalkeeper, no day has been dedicated to him yet – which is odd, considering how popular soccer is in this country.
Furthermore, his profession is even abused, albeit in a joking manner. If you do not want to do or give something, but don’t want to say so openly, you can say: “I’ll give it to you / I’ll do it on the Day of the Goalkeeper”.