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National Day of Repentance
Papua New Guinea

National Day of Repentance 2017 and 2018

The National Day of Repentance in Papua New Guinea, is a public, non-working holiday. It is celebrated on August 26 and is a religious holiday to show repentance to God.

YearDateDayHoliday
201726 AugSatNational Day of Repentance
28 AugMonNational Day of Repentance
Holiday
201826 AugSunNational Day of Repentance

History of the Holiday

The holiday was established by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill approximately two weeks after taking office. The day was established after churches requested O’Neill’s predecessor, Sam Abal, to establish the day before he was voted out of office by a “no confidence” vote. The first National Day of Repentance was held within a few days of the announcement. Little information was provided by the government as to the purpose of the day, causing some confusion. Pastor Jack Edward of the Shema Evangelism Ministry was made Repentance Day Coordinator and announced that the day was to be a time for people to come together to pray and ask the Lord’s forgiveness for wrongs occurring in the country.

Controversy

Many in Papua New Guinea felt that the announcement of the holiday came out of the blue and that it may exclude non-Christians. When the holiday was created, there were at least 4,000 practicing Muslims in the country, led by Imaam Mikail Abd Al-Azeez who was not against Repentance Day, but thought it may send the wrong message that repenting wrongdoings can be done just once each year. Businesses were told that they must either close on the first Repentance Day or pay their employees double time as is the requirement in Papua New Guinea.

Traditions and Celebrations

On the National Day of Repentance, schools, offices and businesses are closed. Churches in the country offer prayer services and other activities designed to celebrate the day. On the first Repentance Day, a large totem pole and other pagan symbols that adorned the parliament building were burned, sending a message that the country needs to repent from its pagan roots. In some areas, children delivered the national flag to church altars which represents delivering the nation to God. Special prayers and Bible readings are held as well as prayers of thanksgiving with many participants asking God to lead the nation. The day is centred around church, prayer and family with people asked to look back over the year and repent anything they may have done wrong. The belief is that religious values are critical to the success of the country and that attendance at church that day is essential to the identity and culture of Papua, making that country different from others around the world