Because of its great variety of peoples and languages, Chad possesses a rich cultural heritage. The Chadian government has actively promoted Chadian culture and national traditions by opening the Chad National Museum and the Chad Cultural Centre. Six national holidays are observed throughout the year, and movable holidays include the Christian holiday of Easter Monday and the Muslim holidays of Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, and Eid Milad Nnabi.
The music of Chad includes a number of unusual instruments such as the kinde, a type of bow harp; the kakaki, a long tin horn; and the hu hu, a stringed instrument that uses calabashes as loudspeakers. Other instruments and their combinations are more linked to specific ethnic groups: the Sara prefer whistles, balafones, harps and kodjo drums; and the Kanembu combine the sounds of drums with those of flute-like instruments.
The music group Chari Jazz formed in 1964 and initiated Chad's modern music scene. Later, more renowned groups such as African Melody and International Challal attempted to mix modernity and tradition. Popular groups such as Tibesti have clung faster to their heritage by drawing on sai, a traditional style of music from southern Chad. The people of Chad have customarily disdained modern music. However, in 1995 greater interest has developed and fostered the distribution of CDs and audio cassettes featuring Chadian artists. Piracy and a lack of legal protections for artists' rights remain problems to further development of the Chadian music industry.
Millet is the staple food throughout Chad. It is used to make balls of paste that are dipped in sauces. In the north this dish is known as alysh; in the south, as biya. Fish is popular, which is generally prepared and sold either as salanga (sun-dried and lightly smoked Alestes and Hydrocynus) or as banda (smoked large fish). Carcaje is a popular sweet red tea extracted from hibiscus leaves. Alcoholic beverages, though absent in the north, are popular in the south, where people drink millet beer, known as billi-billi when brewed from red millet, and as coshate when from white millet.
As in other Sahelian countries, literature in Chad has seen an economic, political and spiritual drought that has affected its best known writers. Chadian authors have been forced to write from exile or expatriate status and have generated literature dominated by themes of political oppression and historical discourse. Since 1962, 20 Chadian authors have written some 60 works of fiction. Among the most internationally renowned writers are Joseph Brahim Seïd, Baba Moustapha, Antoine Bangui and Koulsy Lamko. In 2003 Chad's sole literary critic, Ahmat Taboye, published his Anthologie de la littérature tchadienne to further knowledge of Chad's literature internationally and among youth and to make up for Chad's lack of publishing houses and promotional structure.
The development of a Chadian film industry was hampered by the devastations of civil war and from the lack of cinemas, of which there is only one in the whole country. The first Chadian feature film, the docudrama Bye Bye Africa, was made in 1999 by Mahamat Saleh Haroun. His later film Abouna was critically acclaimed, and his Daratt won the Grand Special Jury Prize at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival. The 2010 feature film A Screaming Man won the Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, making Haroun the first Chadian director to enter, as well as win, an award in the main Cannes competition. Issa Serge Coelo directed Chad's two other films, Daresalam and DP75: Tartina City.
Football is Chad's most popular sport. The country's national team is closely followed during international competitions and Chadian footballers have played for French teams. Basketball and freestyle wrestling are widely practiced, the latter in a form in which the wrestlers put on traditional animal hides and cover themselves with dust.