Public Holidays in Uruguay

Public holidays in Uruguay offer a deep insight into the country's rich culture, historical milestones, and national pride. From commemorating pivotal battles to celebrating the nation’s heritage, each holiday carries its unique significance and is marked with vibrant festivities, solemn ceremonies, and family gatherings. These holidays not only provide citizens with a day off from work but also serve as a reminder of the values, struggles, and triumphs that have shaped the nation. In this article, we explore some of the key public holidays that every Uruguayan looks forward to each year, highlighting how these special days contribute to national identity and community spirit.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day in Uruguay is celebrated on January 1st and marks the beginning of the year with grand enthusiasm. It's a day filled with joy and hope, where people gather to bid farewell to the past year and welcome the new one with open arms. Fireworks light up the sky at midnight, families enjoy special meals, and friends share resolutions. Beaches and public spaces are popular spots where concerts and parties continue until dawn, setting a festive tone for the year ahead.


Observed on January 6th, Epiphany, or Three Kings' Day, is a cherished holiday in Uruguay. This day is primarily focused on the younger members of the family, as children wake up to find gifts left by the Magi. Families attend church services to celebrate the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. The day also includes traditional festive foods and is a time for families to gather and enjoy the holiday season's last echoes.

Carnival Monday and Tuesday

One of the most anticipated holidays in Uruguay, Carnival Monday and Carnival Tuesday mark the peak of the Uruguayan Carnival, the longest carnival celebration in the world. Spanning late February or early March, these days are filled with parades, Candombe drumming, and vibrant costumes. Each neighborhood bursts with the rhythm of comparsas (dance and drum groups) that perform in the streets, reflecting the African heritage of this festive tradition.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are solemn holidays observed with deep religious reverence in Uruguay. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, while Good Friday marks Christ's crucifixion and death. Churches hold special services and processions, and many Uruguayans observe the tradition of not eating meat, opting instead for fish and other seafood, as a sign of respect and penance.

Landing of the 33 Patriots Day

On April 19th, Uruguay celebrates the Landing of the 33 Patriots Day, commemorating the arrival of the 33 exiled Uruguayan revolutionary leaders in 1825 who ignited the country's independence movement. Ceremonies and reenactments take place, particularly in the town of La Agraciada where the patriots landed. This day is a proud reminder of the bravery and determination that led to Uruguay's independence.

Labour Day

Labour Day, observed on May 1st, is a significant holiday in Uruguay dedicated to honoring the economic and social achievements of workers. Rallies and marches are common, where workers from various sectors come together to celebrate their rights and advocate for improvements. It's a day of unity and solidarity among the working class, emphasizing the importance of labor rights in maintaining a fair and just society.

Battle of Las Piedras Day

Commemorated on May 18th, the Battle of Las Piedras Day is celebrated in remembrance of a crucial victory in Uruguay's fight for independence from Spain in 1811. This holiday is marked by military parades and public ceremonies, particularly at the battle site in Las Piedras. Schools often hold special programs to educate students about the significance of this victory in Uruguay’s path to freedom.

Independence Day

August 25th is celebrated as Independence Day, a national holiday marking Uruguay's declaration of independence from Brazil in 1825. The day is filled with national pride, featuring parades, speeches, and performances. The main festivities occur in the capital, Montevideo, but smaller celebrations are seen nationwide, where Uruguayans reflect on their national identity and the achievements of their country since gaining independence.

Day of the Races

Day of the Races, observed on October 12th, coincides with Columbus Day and celebrates the diverse ethnic and cultural heritage of Uruguay. It is a reflection on the impact of the encounter between Europe and the Americas and promotes the recognition of Uruguay’s indigenous and immigrant cultures. Cultural exhibitions, educational programs, and public discussions are held to foster understanding and appreciation of the nation's rich cultural mosaic.

All Souls' Day

All Souls' Day, on November 2nd, is a somber day dedicated to remembering deceased loved ones. Families visit cemeteries to clean graves, place flowers, and light candles in honor of their departed family members. It is a day of solemn reflection and remembrance, offering prayers for the souls of the dead, and is observed with great respect across the country.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day, celebrated on December 25th, is one of the most joyous holidays in Uruguay. This religious and cultural celebration is characterized by family gatherings, midnight masses, and festive decorations. Children eagerly await gifts from Papá Noel (Santa Claus), and families enjoy a special meal together, often featuring roasted meats and seasonal treats, symbolizing unity and love among family and friends.

In Uruguay, public holidays are not just days off from work; they are vibrant expressions of the nation's diverse culture, historical achievements, and community values. Each holiday serves as an opportunity for Uruguayans to celebrate their identity, educate the young about their history, and strengthen communal bonds. These celebrations are essential threads in the fabric of Uruguayan society, helping to weave a story of a nation proud of its past and hopeful for its future.

Upcoming Holidays (next six months)

Birth of Artigas June 19 Wednesday Public Holiday
Constitution Day July 18 Thursday Public Holiday
Independence Day August 25 Sunday Public Holiday
Day of the Races October 12 Saturday Public Holiday
All Souls' Day November 02 Saturday Public Holiday

Holidays by Year

Previous Year: 2023
This page was last edited on 03 May 2024 at 07:14 PM (EST).