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Emancipation Day
Jamaica

Emancipation Day 2021, 2022 and 2023 in Jamaica

Various countries and dependencies throughout the Caribbean have an Emancipation Day with various dates and historical backgrounds. In Jamaica, Emancipation Day comes on 1 August, the day in 1834 when the British Parliament passed the bill to abolish slavery in all British colonies.

YearDateDayHoliday
20211 AugSunEmancipation Day
2 AugMonEmancipation Day Holiday
20221 AugMonEmancipation Day
20231 AugTueEmancipation Day
20241 AugThuEmancipation Day
Please scroll down to end of page for previous years' dates.

The bill itself contained provisions for former masters to be compensated for the loss of their “property”, sometimes by several years of continued service by the former slaves. Thus slavery did end in Jamaica, but it was a process. The first of August stands out as the key date that saw that process get started, and for that reason, it’s the date of the holiday.

By 1840, at least, all of Jamaica’s 311,000 or so slaves were finally free. And the same could be said for thousands upon thousands more spread throughout other British holdings in the Caribbean and beyond.

Emancipation Day was first made a public holiday in Jamaica in 1893, but it was discontinued when Jamaica became an independent country in 1962. In 1997, however, it was reintroduced and has been celebrated ever since.

It is a day on which people remember the long struggle against slavery and rejoice that it was finally abolished. It is also a time to reflect on how far Jamaica and its population – largely descended from freed slaves – has come over the last 175 years or so.

Previous Years

YearDateDayHoliday
20201 AugSatEmancipation Day
20191 AugThuEmancipation Day
20181 AugWedEmancipation Day
20171 AugTueEmancipation Day