In El Salvador, National Day of Life, Peace and Justice, a special holiday dedicated to the pursuit of peace, takes place every March 26. It was a public holiday before then-president Salvador Sanchez Ceren requested its designation as a working celebration, with government offices, schools, and businesses remaining open for the day. The day’s not only about public life — every Salvadoran is encouraged to observe peace in their personal lives!
History of National Day of Life, Peace and Justice
After the first settlers arrived on El Salvadoran shores, some of the indigenous population had been decimated by the smallpox epidemic. The land was not filled with gold, jewels, or even minerals like some of its neighbors. What it had was very volcanic soil, considered to be extremely fertile soil that yields harvests for years upon years. And so, El Salvador was colonized by the Spanish, remaining a colony until it gained its independence in the 19th century. The newly formed government pegged all their hopes, and their economy, on one crop — coffee. A series of presidents centered most of the country’s plans around this crop, leading to infrastructure and development that grew primarily to support its trade and the economy to solely export this product. El Salvador was involved in producing this cash crop, but the profits only went to the handful of families who owned the land the coffee was grown on.
Over the years, the income disparity and general unrest grew and caused a climate of political instability. Coups, revolts, and multiple authoritarian leaders pushed the Salvadorans past their limits. They began a very bloody Civil War, which lasted for 12 years and only ended with the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords. The settlement negotiated a ceasefire that lasted around 30 years, bringing some measure of peace to the war-ravaged region.
The National Day of Life, Peace and Justice was conceived as a response and acknowledgment of the nation’s complicated past and hope for the future. The National Council for Public Security and Coexistence, at the initiative of the country’s President, declared March 26 to be the National Day of Life, Peace and Justice, and Salvadorans have been observing this day ever since.
National Day of Life, Peace and Justice timeline
The Salvadoran Civil War starts after the government-sanctioned murder of protesters.
The war, fought between left-wing rebels and the military-led government, ends with the signing of the ‘Chapultepec Peace Accords.’
The National Day of Life, Peace and Justice is celebrated for the first time as a nonpublic, working holiday.
A nonprofit International Crisis Group report states homicide rates are down 60% since Nayib Bukele became the Salvadoran president in 2019.
National Day of Life, Peace and Justice FAQs
How do El Salvadorans celebrate National Day of Life, Peace and Justice?
Offices and schools are open on this day, so people mostly include prayer and religious services alongside their daily activities. Occasionally, there are organized speeches and talks on the subject at universities and schools.
Is El Salvador at war?
The country hasn’t been involved in a war since 1992, although political, social, and civil unrest continue.
Is El Salvador improving?
While their gross domestic product (G.D.P.) growth was only 3% between 2000 and 2020, they’ve seen a significant decline in poverty and inequality over the years.
How to Observe National Day of Life, Peace and Justice
Learn about peace and justice in El Salvador
Review their past as a Spanish colony, their Civil War, and its current peaceful atmosphere. You can also watch documentaries, read journals, or get firsthand accounts from Salvadorans you might know to understand the region and its people better.
Join the conversation
Explore talks and debates, learn about real-world examples, and read up on practical ideas to form your own opinion of peace and what it resembles. Then, why not share your thoughts on social media to encourage others to contribute to the discussion too?
Work toward a peaceful ideal
Pledge to observe a peaceful life, both personally and publicly. Encourage everyone around you to do the same, and lead by example.
5 Interesting Facts About El Salvador
Its coffee is famous
Coffee beans from El Salvador have consistently ranked among the best quality beans in the world, and some of the most sought-after beans, like the Pacas and the Pacamara, come from here.
It has tons of volcanoes
Salvadorans have over 20 volcanoes in their country, two of which are active.
Its flag symbolizes peace
The white stripe on the El Salvadoran flag contained within two blue stripes was chosen to represent peace and solidarity.
There are El Salvadoran pyramids
El Salvador’s architectural marvels date back to the Mayan era.
It’s a surprisingly small country
Although only 8,124 square miles — about the size of Wales — it’s the third largest economy in Central America.
Why National Day of Life, Peace and Justice is Important
It links back to a historic moment
We can’t help but connect the National Day of Life, Peace and Justice to the historic signing of the Peace Accords in 1992. One of the longest-lasting peace settlements of that era, the Peace Accords inspired other countries, like Guatemala and Honduras, as they negotiated their peace settlements in the following years.
It supports a peaceful movement
Whatever form peace should take, celebrating a day like this is always beneficial. Even an imperfect peace holds lessons to learn from, and the more people who recognize this as a crucial mission, the bigger the world’s chances of becoming a better place.
It envisions a promising future
As it emphasizes important lessons from the past, National Day of Life, Peace and Justice also encourages citizens to think about creating a positive present and future. The holiday reminds Salvadorans to preserve harmony and justice in their daily lives.
National Day of Life, Peace and Justice dates