Freedom Day in Suriname

Freedom Day, known as "Dag der Vrijheden" in Dutch, is a significant annual event in Suriname that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the country. This day is also referred to as "Keti Koti," which means "the breaking of chains" in the Sranan Tongo language. Freedom Day is observed on the 1st of July every year, marking the day when slavery was officially abolished in Suriname in 1863.


Freedom Day traces its origins back to the 1st of July, 1863, when the Netherlands officially abolished slavery in its colonies, including Suriname. This historic event marked the end of centuries of enslavement of African people who had been forcibly brought to Suriname to work on plantations. The Dutch government's decision to abolish slavery was influenced by the growing anti-slavery movement in Europe, as well as the example set by other countries that had already abolished the practice.

After the abolition of slavery, the freed slaves in Suriname were required to work for a further ten years under a state-regulated labor system, known as "Staatstoezicht," before they were granted full freedom. This period of transition was meant to prevent a sudden collapse of the plantation economy, as well as to help the former slaves adapt to their newfound freedom. Finally, on the 1st of July, 1873, the former slaves were granted complete freedom, and this date has since become a symbol of emancipation and liberation for the people of Suriname.


National customs for Freedom Day in Suriname

Freedom Day in Suriname is marked by numerous events and activities that celebrate the emancipation of slaves and the country's rich cultural heritage. The celebration is a blend of solemn remembrance and festive activities, and includes:

  • Parades and processions: Colorful parades and processions are organized throughout the country, featuring traditional music, dance, and vibrant costumes that showcase the diverse cultures of Suriname.

  • Wreath-laying ceremonies: Government officials, religious leaders, and representatives of various communities attend wreath-laying ceremonies at important monuments and memorials dedicated to the victims of slavery.

  • Cultural performances: Traditional music, dance, and theatrical performances are held to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Suriname and to pay tribute to the resilience and strength of the ancestors who endured slavery.

  • Food and drink: Traditional Surinamese dishes and beverages are prepared and shared among families and friends as part of the festivities.

Local customs for Freedom Day in Suriname

In addition to the national customs, various local customs are also observed in different parts of Suriname during Freedom Day celebrations. These may include:

  • Community gatherings and feasts: Local communities come together for communal meals and celebrations, where traditional dishes are prepared and shared.

  • Educational events: Workshops, seminars, and lectures are organized to raise awareness about the history of slavery in Suriname and the importance of preserving the country's unique cultural heritage.

  • Art exhibitions: Local artists and craftsmen showcase their work in exhibitions, highlighting the themes of emancipation and cultural identity.


Freedom Day in Suriname is a significant event that honors the memory of the country's enslaved ancestors and celebrates the abolition of slavery. The day serves as a reminder of the struggles faced by the ancestors and their resilience in overcoming adversity. The various customs and activities observed during this day are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Suriname and the determination of its people to preserve their history and identity for future generations.