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Republic Day: Guyana’s Most Festive Holiday Celebration

Flag of Guyana

Republic Day: February 23

Republic Day is a public holiday in Guyana.

Guyana celebrates Republic Day or Mashramani (abbreviated as ‘Mash) on February usually on the 23rd. Guyanese citizens enjoy festive and colourful parades much like that of a carnival, music, and games. Guyanese cook on this special day to mark the birth of a new country.

Mashramani should not be confused with the country’s Independence Day on May 26. After it gained independence from the British in 1966, the Guyanese people established itself as an independent nation or a democratic sovereign country as stated in the British Commonwealth of 1970.

The word Mashramani is an Amerindian word which means to celebrate/celebrating a job well done. It is the most celebrated holiday in Guyana as floats, parades and masquerade party and dancing flood the street a scenery which reflects the country’s proud African heritage.

History of Guyana’s Republic Day

For most foreigners, the idea of celebrating Guyanese Republic Day might be construed with celebrating Independence Day. While the country’s Independence Day marks the act of the British in relegating the sovereignty Guyana have long been wanting for, it is the Republic Day where the Guyanese commemorates the establishment of a sovereign republic after being granted independence from the British rule.

Carnival-like celebration in Guyana has long been practiced in Mackenzie by local members of Junior Chamber International (JCI) or Jaycees. The celebration of Guyana’s Republic Day coincided with the establishment of Jaycees Republic Celebrations Committee headed by Basil Butcher but it was Jim Blackman was appointed to do the job because Butcher had to join the West Indies Cricket Team during that time. Blackman, along with other personnel, organized the first formal government-sponsored carnival activity to happen in Guyana.

Butcher was the one to initially suggest that the name of the festival be based on Amerindian word. Amerindian is a language spoken by indigenous people of the Americas who are sometimes called upon as Native Americans or American Indian. One of Butcher’s personnels, Mr. Allan Fietdkow, a native Amerindian, helped Butcher in coming up with a name for the festival through his consultation with his grandfather. Ultimately, the word Mashramani was suggested.

The first Mashramani in February 23, 1970 was a huge success and well-accepted by the locals; because of that, a government official named David Singh suggested that the festival be brought to the country’s capital – Georgetown. It later was given approval by the president of Guyana back then (President Forbes Burnham).

The celebration of Mashramani is done in various regions in Guyana including Berbice, Linden, and Georgetown but due the largest concentration of events usually happen in Georgetown due in part to sponsorship both from private and public institutions and individuals..

Guyana’s Republic Day: Traditions, Customs and Activities

Guyana’s constitutional milestone is celebrated with float parade, dancing and singing, and other fun activities. It aims to mobilize professionals, private individuals, and the youth in participating in the country’s celebration of the country’s political success. The three-day festival is joined by people from all walks of life coming from different regions in Guyana. The Mardi-Gras like celebration encourages both men and women to participate in street dancing and parade wearing colourful costumes. There is no other holiday to look forward to in Guyana other than the fun-filled carnival-like celebration of Republic Day.

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