Many of the holidays in Puerto Rico are the same as in the United States, but on 22 March, Puerto Rico celebrates its own unique holiday called Emancipation Day.
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Emancipation Day looks back to the day in 1873 when, while still under Spanish rule, slavery was officially abolished throughout the island. Nonetheless, “freed” slaves were forced to work three more years for their former masters to reimburse them for the loss of their “property”. In addition, slave owners were given money by the government to compensate them for their loss.
But even though it took a little longer for slavery to fully and truly end in Puerto Rico, it’s the date of the passing of the anti-slavery law on 22 March 1873 that’s the basis of the holiday’s date.
For Emancipation Day, Puerto Ricans throw colourful, boisterous parties, fill themselves with traditional cuisine, and remember the history of slavery in Puerto Rico and how it was abolished.