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Benin's Animist Festival Confirmed As Official Public Holiday

Source: The Economist
Posted: Monday, January 5, 1998

Benin will celebrate its traditional Vodoun religion festival as an official gazetted public holiday, on January 10, 1998, after a motion to remove the festival from the list of Benin's public holidays was rejected by Parliament late last year.

Voodoo Day was declared a national holiday in Benin more than a decade ago, under the administration of former President Nicephore Soglo. But in 1996, the new President, Mathieu Kerekou, attempted to ban it, saying Benin was a secular state. President Kerekou, who was an atheist during his years as a Marxist military dictator (1972-91), had converted to Roman Catholicism during his five years out of office in 1991-96.

The Vodoun festival has been dubbed "the animists' Christmas".

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