Besides the national and state holidays observed throughout the country, Malaysians too have other days that they celebrate throughout the year. These days are not public holidays but are significant as they are commemorated to remember the seniors and other benefactors.
Father’s Day usually falls on the second Sunday of June. This is where children of the family will remember their fathers by buying gifts and organizing special events. In most cases, the family members usually gather together to have a dinner which will involve the father’s favourite foods.
Meanwhile, shopping malls and retail outlets will take this time to offer special offers and promotions for gifts and presents while food and beverage outlets will offer Father’s Day special meals.
It has often been perceived that Mother’s Day is celebrated in a larger scale as compared to Father’s Day. This is because mothers are usually closer to the children in many ways. As such, Mother’s Day is celebrated not only with meals and a feast but with flowers and other sweet events too.
Mother’s Day is usually held on the second Sunday of May. Buffets and high-teas are very common while florists will be busy too. Family members will organize special events for their mothers to remember the love and years of upbringing.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the world. Held on the 14th of February each year, it is known in other communities as Saint Valentine’s Day or Feast of Saint Valentine. In certain communities, Valentine’s Day is a public holiday although it is not the case in Malaysia.
Valentine’s Day has a very religious and romantic background to it which dated back to the 18th century in England. Today, it has become in the international day of love. Couples use this day to profess their love for each other while those who are in courtship use Valentine’s as the day to confess their love.
In Malaysia, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by people from all walks of life. Shopping malls will have hearts and red-coloured decorations while gifts shops will offer all types of lovey-dovey packages. Flowers, especially roses are most expensive during this season while food outlets and F & B will offer Valentine’s Day special promotions.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday
Good Friday and Easter Sunday is usually held during the end of March and early April. This is during the holy week which is part of the Paschal Triduum. Good Friday is known as Great Friday, Black Friday and Holy Friday in certain communities. The preceding Sunday is Easter Sunday.
Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ while Easter Sunday commemorates the resurrection of Christ three days later. Besides Christmas, it is among the most important dates of the Christian calendar.
In Malaysia, churches will hold special services and mass on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to commemorate these very important dates. Christians from all walks of life will remember the sacrifice of Christ where there will be all types of events like singing of praises, worship and such.
Labour Day is held on the first of May each year. Some countries no longer use the word Labour and has changed it to Worker’s Day or May Day. It is an important day of great significance where this day remembers the contributions of the labour force and movements. In Malaysia, Labour Day is observed as a national public holiday which is the same with more than 80 countries across the world.
Wesak Day is celebrated by Buddhists across the world. It is a prominent day observed in countries like India, Thailand, Bhutan, Indonesia, China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia. It commemorates the:
- enlightenment or Buddhahood
- and death
of Gautama Buddha.
Besides Wesak, it is known as Vesak, Vesakha, Buddha Day and Buddha Purnima. Wesak Day usually falls in May each year. Devotees will visit Buddhist temples where they give offerings and meditate. In Malaysia, it is a public holiday observed nationally.
Yang Dipertuan Agong’s Birthday
Each year, Malaysia observes the official birthday of the Yang Dipertuan Agong, who is the head of state of the country. This is usually held in the first Saturday of June each year.
Malaysia has a unique constitutional monarchy where the head of state changes once every 5 years upon the election among the Conference of Rulers of the country. During the Yang Dipertuan Agong’s birthday, the country observes a public holiday where there will be a series of events and activities including conferment of titles for prominent people who have contributed to the country.
Each year, Muslims observe the Awal Muharram day which commemorates 2 significant events for the community. Muharram refers to the first month of the calendar for Muslims while Awal means early or start.
Put together, Awal Muharram means the start of the Muslim calendar. It is the date when Prophet Muhammad mads his journey from Mecca to Medina. In Malaysia, Muslims celebrate Awal Muharram by going to mosques, holding religious meetings and reciting the Quran at mosques and on television. Besides Awal Muharram, it is known as Maal Hijrah where each year, a Muslim person who have contributed to the Islamic faith is awarded the ‘Tokoh Ma’al Hijrah’.
Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
Each year, Muslims commemorate the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. This comes around the end of November or the beginning of December. It is a time to remember peace and kindness. In Malaysia, it is known as ‘Mawlid’ or ‘Maulidur Rasul’.
Malaysia observes this day as a national public holiday where Muslims will visit the mosque or visit homes with gifts and presents.
Hari Raya Haji
This is the second ‘Hari Raya’ observed by Muslims and Malaysians alike. It is known as Eid Al-Adha Hari Raya Aidiladha or Hari Raya Haji in short. It comes around in the month of Dzulhijjah on its 10th day which is the last month in the calendar. Hari Raya Haji is celebrated for 2 days in certain states where it commemorates the conclusion of the Haj each year.
It is the Festival of Sacrifice which remembers Prophet Abraham’s willingness to offer sacrifice in any kind to God including Ishmael, his own son. Then, God spared his son and substituted the sacrifice with lamb which is why this livestock is used during the festival.
New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day comes a week after Christmas. It is part of the year-end holiday season. People from all walks of life will celebrate New Year’s Day with much fanfare. Clubs will have countdown parties, street parties will be held, carnivals will organize and shopping malls offering sale and other promotions. It is a public holiday which comes with renewed hope and dreams for a better year ahead.
Like every other countries in the world, Malaysia observes the same public holiday where families are known to go for trips during the long break while others take the time to relax and take time-off from work.
There are certain festivals in Malaysia which are special days gazetted to be public holidays in the state. As there are 13 states in the country, each state will have its own set of traditions and culture which are significant to its people. As such, these days are observed only by that state and no other in Malaysia.
Significant state holidays
Malacca Heritage Day – This is the date when Malacca was declared as a Historical City which falls on the 15th of April each year.
Georgetown World Heritage City Day – This comes around on 7th July where it commemorates the date when Georgetown was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO.
Religious State holidays
Israk & Mikraj – This is a day to commemorate the 2 parts of the Islamic journey taken by Prophet Muhammad. This celebration is only observed in Kedah, Negeri Sembilan and Perlis which is in April.
Nuzul Quran – In June, the states of Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Selangor, Terengganu and the 3 Federal Territories observe the Nuzul Quran. This day commemorates the time when Prophet Muhammad first received the Holy Quran.
Harvest Festivals in East Malaysia
The East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak celebrates the harvest each year with much fanfare and in large scales. 2 respective public holidays are observed in these states although the celebrations usually go on for a week or two. They are as follow:
- Sabah and Labuan – Harvest Festival is held on 30th and 31st May each year. In Sabah, it is known as the Kaamatan Festival.
- Sarawak – Known as Hari Gawai or Gawai Festival, this comes around on the 1st and 2nd June each year.
Birthday of Rulers
Each state in Malaysia has its own ruler whether it is the Sultan or the Yang di-Pertuan. Each of the ruler will celebrate the official birthday on certain months of the year. Generally, they are as follow:
- Yang di-Pertuan of Negeri Sembilan – January
- Sultan of Kedah – January
- Sultan of Johor – March
- Sultan of Terengganu – April
- Raja Perlis – May
- Governor of Penang – July
- Governor of Sarawak – September
- Governor of Sabah – October
- Governor of Malacca – October
- Sultan of Pahang – November
- Sultan of Perak – November
- Sultan of Kelantan – November
- Sultan of Selangor – December