List of Public Holidays in Kenya

Updated on 2024/03/21– If you are a working-class adult living in Kenya at the moment, I’m pretty sure you are wondering when the next public holidays in Kenya will be.

Most of the time, national public holidays are gazetted. However, it can be tasking to keep checking your calendar to get the date for the next holiday.

That’s why today we will look at a list of all public holidays in Kenya in the calendar year 2020/2021. We will start with the most recent and then move towards those not yet celebrated.

What does a Gazetted Public Holiday Mean?

This is a holiday that must be observed by employers, schools, and banks. There is, however, an exemption for those working in the service industry such as hotels.

A new term about this term gazetted is that it’s only used by those countries that were initially colonised by the British. The minister has to issue a gazette notice to have the employers follow it.

Public holidays in Kenya

  1. New Year’s Day 1st January
  2. Good Friday As per the Gregorian calendar
  3. Easter Monday As per the Gregorian calendar
  4. Labour Day 1st May
  5. Madaraka Day* 1st June
  6. Mashujaa Day* 20th October
  7. Jamhuri (Independence) Day* 12th December
  8. Christmas Day 25th December
  9. Boxing Day 26th December
  10. Idd – ul – Fitr

As earlier stated, we will start with the most recently celebrated holiday and then move on towards those not yet marked.

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  1. Madaraka day – Celebrated every 1st of June

Madaraka Day is a national public holiday in which Kenya celebrated the day when it gained independence from the British.

This year, Madaraka day will be celebrated on Monday to the joy of many Kenyans. As is the Law, any public holidays in Kenya, that lies on a Saturday is celebrated on that day. However, any public holiday that lies on a Sunday is pushed to be celebrated on Monday.

Narok county was the host for last year’s Madaraka day. It will go down in history that, it is on that day that the central bank of Kenya introduced the new Kenyan notes. That was the 56th celebration since the country gained independence in 1963.

2. Idd al-Fitr

This festival is celebrated to mark the end of the holy month (Ramadhan). The date to celebrate this festival is not constant as it’s highly depended on the appearance of the moon.

Before the start of this holiday, a Muslim faithful is required to give to the poor to ensure that on the day of the celebration, they have food to partake. Idd al – Fitr was celebrated as a public holiday on Wednesday 6/5/2019.

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3. Moi Day – 10th October

This holiday was established as a way of honoring his Excellency Daniel Arap Moi, who was the former president of Kenya. Upon the declaration of the new constitution in 2010, this holiday was scrapped off.

However, it was later to be reinstated in 2017 following a court ruling by George Odunga.

Once again, Kenyans have a day to take a break from their back-breaking jobs and spend some time with friends and relatives. Therefore, Moi Day is one of the Public holidays in Kenya celebrated today.

4. Mashujaa Day – 20th October

Initially, this Public holiday in Kenya was known as Kenyatta Day. It had been established to celebrate and honor the first president of the Republic of Kenya.

However, when people started questioning the importance of this day to the common mwananchi, the name was changed to Mashujaa day.

In English, the word mashujaa means heroes. It is on this holiday that the people who fought in the Mau Mau movement and shed their blood are celebrated. On this particular day, Kenyans remember the Kapenguria six who were detained and arrested.

This public holiday is significant as it reminds us of a country on the cost of our freedom.

5. Jamhuri day – 12th December

This is one of my best public holidays in Kenya. It is on this day that we celebrated the day when Kenya gained its independence. Kenya was officially declared independent on the 12th of December 1964.

There is a difference between Jamhuri day and Madaraka day. Madaraka Day is celebrated on the 1st of June and is the day Kenya gained self-rule while it took independence from the British colony on 12th December 1964.

6. Christmas Day – 25th December

This public holiday is marked by Christians all over the world. It is a day in which we celebrate the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. It’s always my favorite time of the year, as one gets to spend lots of time with family, friends, and relatives.

It is always around this time that most private companies give their employees annual leaves. This means that one does not have to spend it hurriedly to rush back to work. Christmas holiday is synonymous with food, drinks, shags, and laughter.

7. Boxing day – 26th December

Though most of us do not know the meaning and importance of this holiday, we still end up celebrating it in our way.

This holiday was declared by Wealthy British families when they got to offer presents to their servants. Despite this fact, we still celebrate it as a public holiday in Kenya.

In Kenya, we mostly spend this holiday upcountry if we can afford the transport rate at the time. Most of us will mostly open our gifts, the one which friends and family shared during Christmas.

8. New Years Day – 1st January

On this public holiday, Kenyans celebrate the beginning of a new year. For most of Kenyans as well as other people worldwide, it is a day that we commemorate new beginnings.

Some of us might spend the night before reflecting on the wins and losses of the previous year.

However, the larger population of Kenyans would rather spend it in places of entertainment waiting for midnight.

9. Good Friday

This public holiday in Kenya just like the Idd al – Fitr, is not celebrated on a specific date. The date on which to celebrate this holiday is determined based on the Gregorian calendar.

This is a Christian holiday in which the faithful celebrate the year on which the Messiah, Jesus Christ was crucified.

For shoppers in the house, this day is also known as Black Friday. On this day, sellers offer their goods to sell at relatively discounted prices to their customers.

10. Easter Monday

On this day, Christians all over the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It always comes on the third day after Good Friday. The Gregorian calendar also determines the dates on when to celebrate it.

11. Labor Day – 1st May

In this public holiday, the workers in Kenya are celebrated. And it is among the public holidays in Kenya.

Most of the time, the trade union organizations, as well as employers organizations, are the key players. The head of state also may take this opportunity to introduce some significant changes expected to affect both employees and employers.

For instance, in this year’s celebrations, there was a discussion around the housing levy. However, its worth to note that this holiday is celebrated internationally. It may also be referred to as May Day.

Public Holidays in Kenya Conclusion

Moreover, some holidays are at the discretion of the Ministry. For instance, all the National voting days are declared to be national public holidays in Kenya. This is because it is a legal right for all the Kenyans to vote.

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Mary is one of the leading writers on Urban Kenyans. She is knowledgable on matters Kenya and has been able to educate many Kenyans on this platform.

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