September 24, 2006
Republic Day has to be one of the more confusing holidays on our replete calendar of national holidays. It is a celebration of the country's status as an Independent Republic, attained on August 1st, 1976. And therein lies the first bit of confusion.
Why is Republic Day celebrated on September 24th when T&T became a Republic on August 1st?
In 1976, August 1st was already a national holiday – Discovery Day, commemorating the island's discovery by Christopher Columbus. In 1985 Discovery Day was shelved in favour of Emancipation Day.
Why September 24th then?
The first meeting of Parliament under the republican constitution was held on September 24th.
In 1996 the holiday was abolished, having apparently been deemed less important than a holiday for the Spiritual Baptist religion – politicians will do anything to get a vote – but was reinstated in 2002.
Nevertheless, today Trinidad and Tobago celebrates its thirtieth year as a republic.