Each year, most public holidays are observed on a different date than the previous year. This is why many people tend to acquire the traditional almanac or consult newspapers or websites to stay informed. But how exactly are public holidays observances calculated in Colombia?
This guide provides an easy way to understand how each of the 18 holidays are calculated for any year.
First, it is necessary to understand that there are 3 categories of holidays according to the way their date is calculated.
These are the public holidays that are consistently celebrated on the same date each year.
New Year's day
Battle of Boyacá
These holidays are determined by calculating the number of days before or after Easter Sunday, which varies annually. All of these holidays have a religious significance.
Feast of Corpus Christi
Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
These holidays are observed on the following Monday when their designated date falls on a day other than Monday. They are commonly referred to as holidays impacted by the "Emiliani Law" (Law 51 of 1983) which was implemented to boost tourism.Se incluyen:
Saint Joseph's Day
Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
Assumption of Mary
All Saints' Day
Independence of Cartagena
Note: The holidays for the Ascension of Jesus, Corpus Christi, and the Sacred Heart belong to category #2 but, according to the law, they should also be moved to the following Monday. However, for the purposes of calculation, it is not necessary to take this into account because the rule of adding days from Easter Sunday is sufficient to ensure that they fall on a Monday. Example 4 clarifies this situation.
In order to determine the date of any holiday for a specific year, it is essential to know its calculation category and reference date. Additionally, if the calculation is based on Easter Sunday, it is necessary to know the number of days that need to be added or subtracted to obtain the final date.
The table below illustrates the calculation required to determine the precise date of any holiday based on its category and reference date.
Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, typically varies from year to year as its calculation is based on the ancient lunisolar calendar. The method for determining its date has been consistent since 525 AD among Christians.
The rule states that Easter is the first Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox is the point in the year when the duration of daylight and darkness are equal, based on the Earth's position.
Mathematical techniques have been developed to calculate the date of Easter in the Gregorian calendar, considering various factors in order to apply this rule. For example, while the vernal equinox can occur between March 19th and 21st, March 21st is always used as the reference date for calculation purposes.
In this way, the date of Easter can be determined using methods such as Gauss's algorithm.
To simplify the calculation of holidays in Colombia, the following list includes the pre-determined dates of Easter for several years:
Los siguientes ejemplos ilustran los pasos que se deben realizar para calcular un día festivo para el año 2024. Todos los cálculos se llevan a cabo utilizando la tabla informativa y las fechas de Pascua precalculadas mencionadas anteriormente.
In this instance, as the holiday falls under category #1 (Fixed Date), no calculation is necessary. The Battle of Boyacá holiday will be observed on August 7th every year.
Good Friday belongs to category #2 and its date is determined by subtracting 2 days from the date of Easter Sunday.
Reference date: March 31 (Domingo de Pascua 2024)
Calculation: Subtract 2 days
Resultado: In 2024 Good Friday will be observed on March 29.
Independence Day falls under category #3, which means it is traditionally observed on a Monday.
Reference date: November 11
Calculation: If the reference date is not Monday, move to the following Monday
In 2024, November 11 will fall on a Monday, meaning no adjustments to the date are necessary..
Resultado: In 2024 the Independence of Cartagena will be observed on November 11.
According to the calculation table above, this holiday belongs to category #2 and is calculated by adding 64 days to the date of Easter.
Reference date: March 31 (Domingo de Pascua 2024)
Calculation: Sumar 64 días
Resultado: In 2024 the Corpus Christi public holiday will be observed on June 3.
⚠ Calculation details to consider
To accurately calculate this holiday in compliance with the legal requirements, it is necessary to divide the calculation process into two steps..
As per the church calendar, Corpus Christi falls 60 days after Easter Sunday. Then:
The partial result is May 30, which is the day on which the holiday is widely celebrated in many countries around the world, but not in Colombia
Now we have to verify if the date has to be moved to the following Monday based on the Emiliani law
May 30, 2024, will fall on a Thursday, thus the holiday is observed on the following Monday.
As Easter Sunday is always on a Sunday, adding 60 days will always result in a Thursday. This is why the calculation table specifies that 64 days should be added instead of 60, ensuring that the result is the following Monday without the need for additional calculations.
The calculation method outlined here allows for accurately identifying any holiday from 1984 onwards. For years prior to 1984, the rule for moving holidays to the following Monday does not apply as category #3 did not exist.
It is important to note that holidays are subject to change by the government and the church.
Some holidays are celebrated on the same day in different countries and share similar calculation methods, however, this guide is only applicable specifically to Colombia.