Myanmar celebrates Independence Day on 4th January annually to commemorate Myanmar's Declaration of Independence from the British Monarchy on January 4, 1948.
On 4th January each year, the President and the Vice-President of Myanmar address the nation on this significant public holiday in the country. Schools, offices, and markets are closed. The Independence Day ceremony is organized in the capital city, Naypyidaw by the national government and begins at 4:20 am. Parades are held for Grand Military Review. Across the nation, people dress in traditional outfits and hold cultural programs.
On this one special day, all racial, cultural and political differences take a back seat and community come to together to celebrate. Celebrations are held across the nation in many different ways but the one great thing in common is the feeling and celebration of nationhood and community spirit.
Festive activities such as concerts and friendly neighbourhood football matches, games, sports competitions, poem recitals, sports such as marathon, etc. are held in towns and villages. Most of the games are very traditional and can be specific to a town and unique to some cultures of that region, for example, potatoes Picking, Bamboo Tray Holding, Greasy Coconut Match, Greasy Pole Climbing, Hitting Zinc Bucket, etc.. This is how some of the traditional games are played:
- Greasy Coconut Ruby: All players and the coconut are covered in grease. The goal post is a basket or pit in the ground for the coconut. Players are expect to carry and pass the coconut to each other and dunk it in their goal (basket or pit). The games are usually played by children and enjoyed by everyone who are usually in hysterical laughter.
- Potato Picking game is usually played by children and girls in which potatoes are placed at one side and the competitors stay at other side. The competitors run and pick only one potato at a time and go back to the previous place to put it the tray. The one who can gather most potatoes finally wins.
At the end of the day when all competitions are over, including the poem recital contest, there are usually bigger celebrations in the evening with music concerts and or comedy shows together with the awarding of prizes ceremony to winners of competitions held earlier in the day.
The funds needed to organize these festivals are funded by the people from the town or villages themselves. There's no other day where the best and true human spirit of different races and ethnicities of Myanmar people unit to celebrate life, peace, love and unity as one nation!
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