Dominicans know how to celebrate. The country has a number of national holidays including Duarte's Day, commemorating the birth of their national hero Juan Duarte, and Día de la Altagracía, a celebration of the patron saint of the Dominican people. Many of these days are marked by large, colorful celebrations across the country.
Alongside these holidays the people of the Dominican Republic also celebrate Constitution Day every year. But what is Constitution Day? Why is it celebrated every year in the Dominican Republic? And how do Dominicans choose to celebrate this momentous day?
Below we’ve highlighted a few topics to help explain Constitution Day in the Dominican Republic, how it’s celebrated and its significance:
- What does Constitution day celebrate and when is it celebrated?
- How do they celebrate Constitution Day in the Dominican Republic?
- The many constitutions of the Dominican Republic
- Small World can help
What does Constitution Day celebrate and when is it celebrated?
Constitution Day celebrates the signing of the constitution of the Dominican Republic that occurred on November 6th in the year 1844 in San Cristóbal, a town close to Santo Domingo. It was a momentous day in the history of the Dominican Republic who had proclaimed themselves an independent nation in February 1844.
A constitution is a document that states the fundamental principles, ideals and rights of a country. Many countries, like the Dominican Republic or the United States, have a physical document upon which these principles are written. In 1844 the people of the Dominican Republic wrote, signed and ratified their first constitution, and it is this event that the Dominican Republic still celebrates to this day.
The constitution outlined a separation of powers, a system of checks and balances between the government and the judiciary, and a list of basic rights given to all the people of the Dominican Republic.
Until 2011 Constitution Day was always celebrated on November 6th, the day that the constitution was officially signed in 1844. Since 2011 Constitution Day has always been celebrated on the closest Monday or Friday to November 6th to ensure a three-day weekend and a convenient national holiday.
How do they celebrate Constitution Day in the Dominican Republic?
Many countries have national holidays to mark important national events in their collective history. In the Dominican Republic as well as Constitution Day, the people celebrate Labour Day on May 1st, Día de la Restauración Dominicana on August 16th, and Dominican Identity Day on October 12th. The celebrations for all these kinds of days are similar in many ways, but each day also has it’s special events, traditions and parties.
Constitution Day is marked as a national holiday and the end of a three-day weekend. People get the day off work and are able to celebrate or rest with their family and friends.
Commonly, Dominicans celebrate the day with patriotic speeches, military and civilian parades and flag-raising. There will also be parties, great feasts and traditional dancing. If you were to walk the streets of Santo Domingo or Santiago de los Caballeros on this day you will likely see the red, blue and white flag of the Dominican Republic waving. Processions that honour traditional Dominican clothing and designs can be seen throughout the country on Constitution Day.
As on other national holidays, businesses are either closed or have limited work time on Constitution Day as workers are encouraged to spend time with their family and loved ones to mark one of the most important triumphs of the nation. While many will see the day as a nice excuse for a three-day weekend, some will take part in the processions and the civilian parades.
The many constitutions of the Dominican Republic
While the first constitution of the Dominican Republic was enshrined in 1844 there have been many constitutions since then that have updated the rights of the citizens and the powers of the national institution.
Since the country’s independence they have had a total of 39 constitutions. This is more than any other country, but the statistics are a bit deceiving. The reason the Dominican Republic has had so many constitutions is that they have a tradition of creating a new constitution every time a new amendment is ratified. As a result, most of the constitutions are only slightly different from the previous ones. Big constitutional changes have been quite rare during the history of the Dominican Republic.
One of the most recent constitutions was ordered to be drafted in 2010 by President Leonel Fernández. The constitution currently in use was made on June 13, 2015.
While there have been many constitutions in the Dominican Republic over the years and there are bound to be more in the future, the Constitution Day still marks the day the original constitution was signed and came into power in 1844.
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