Public holidays in Malaysia
Public holidays in Malaysia are regulated at both federal and state levels, mainly based on a list of federal holidays observed nationwide plus a few additional holidays observed by each individual state and federal territory. The public holidays are a mix of secular holidays celebrating the nation and its history, and selected traditional holidays of the various ethnic and religious groups that make up the country.
The legislation governing public holidays in Malaysia includes the Holidays Act 1951 (Act 369) in Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan, the Holidays Ordinance (Sabah Cap. 56) in Sabah and the Public Holidays Ordinance (Sarawak Cap. 8) in Sarawak.
The workweek and weekend varies between states, with most states and federal territories observing a Saturday–Sunday weekend, while Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu observe a Friday–Saturday weekend, though in Johor many private businesses and banks observe the Saturday–Sunday weekend due to close business ties with Singapore. In states and territories with a Saturday–Sunday weekend, a public holiday that falls on Sunday is substituted by a holiday on Monday (or the next working day if Monday itself is a public holiday). In Johor and Kedah, a public holiday that falls on Friday is replaced by Sunday or the next working day, while in Kelantan and Terengganu, a public holiday that falls on Saturday is replaced by Sunday or the next working day.
Federal (national) holidays
Federal public holidays are fixed by the federal government and are observed nationwide with some exceptions. They are:
- Muhammad's Birthday (Maulidur Rasul)
- Hari Merdeka (National Day)
- Chinese New Year (one day in Kelantan and Terengganu, two days in rest of the country)
- Wesak Day
- The Yang di-Pertuan Agong's (Official) Birthday (King's Birthday)
- Hari Raya Puasa (Aidilfitri) (two days)
- Hari Raya Qurban (Aidiladha) (two days in Kelantan and Terengganu, one day in rest of the country)
- Deepavali (except Sarawak)
- Labour Day
- Awal Muharram
- Malaysia Day
Each state and federal territory observes 14 days of federal holidays, except Sarawak which observes 13 days.
Although the second day of Chinese New Year is not listed as a federal holiday in Kelantan and Terengganu, the holiday is gazetted as a state holiday in both states, effectively making it a nationwide holiday. Additionally, the second day of Hari Raya Qurban is gazetted as a state holiday in Kedah and Perlis.
In addition to the federal public holidays, each state may gazette a number of state public holidays to be observed in the state. For the federal territories, the Prime Minister is in charge of designating the territorial public holidays to be observed in each federal territory.
The most widespread state holiday is New Year's Day which is observed in eight states and all three federal territories, followed by Nuzul al-Quran in seven states and all three federal territories, and Thaipusam in five states and two federal territories.
As of 2020, each state and federal territory has designated four to six state public holidays, bringing the total number of (federal and state) public holidays to 20 days in Sabah and Terengganu, 19 days in Labuan, Penang and Sarawak and 18 days in the rest of the country.
Holidays by declaration
In Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan, under Section 8 of the Holidays Act 1951, the Prime Minister may declare any day to be observed as a public holiday in the whole of Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan, or in one of the federal territories, or in one of the states after consultation with the relevant state government. The declared holiday must be observed by all employers as a paid holiday.
Public holidays had been declared on the polling day for a general election, on the day of the installation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, as well as after international sporting events to celebrate the achievements of Malaysian athletes.
At the state level, the state government may declare occasional holiday (cuti peristiwa) for events such as the installation of the state ruler, after major achievements in sporting events, or even to provide an extra holiday but unable to officially gazette it (such as the annual holiday declaration for Thaipusam in Kedah). Unlike holidays declared under Section 8 of the Holidays Act 1951, observance of occasional state holidays by private businesses and organizations is voluntary, while government offices and schools (except for nationwide exams) are closed.
In Sabah and Sarawak, the power to declare any day as a public holiday rests with the state governor (in practice, exercised on the advice of the state government) in accordance with the states' respective Holidays Ordinances.
List of public holidays by declaration
The table below lists additional holidays that were declared under Section 8 of the Holidays Act 1951 for Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan. Unless otherwise noted, the same days were also declared as holidays by Sabah and Sarawak in accordance to their respective Holidays Ordinances.
|2017||26 April (Wed)||Day of Installation of the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong|
|4 September (Mon)||Additional holiday in commemoration of the 2017 SEA Games|
|2018||9 May (Wed)||Polling day for the 14th general election|
|10 & 11 May (Thu & Fri)[A]||Additional holidays for the 14th general election (except Sabah and Sarawak)|
|10 & 13 May (Thu & Sun)[B]|
|17 & 18 May (Thu & Fri)||Additional holidays for the 14th general election (Sarawak only)|
|2019||30 July (Tue)||Day of Installation of the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong|
|A In states and federal territories observing the Saturday—Sunday weekend|
|B In states observing the Friday—Saturday weekend|
Entitlement in employment law
In Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan, employees whose employment is covered by the Employment Act 1955 are entitled to 11 paid public holidays a year. Five of the holidays are fixed by law: National Day, Yang di-Pertuan Agong's Birthday, birthday of the ruler or governor of the state (Federal Territory Day in the federal territories) where the employee is contracted to work, Labour Day and Malaysia Day. The remaining six paid holidays are chosen by the employer from the gazetted public holidays, with notice provided to employees before the start of each calendar year. In addition, any public holiday declared under Section 8 of the Holidays Act 1951 is to be observed as a paid holiday.
Should an employee be required to work on a paid holiday, the employee may be given another day off, or compensated at two times their ordinary wages in addition to holiday pay. Overtime work done on a paid holiday is to be compensated at three times the hourly rate of pay (or three times the ordinary rate per piece for piece-rated employees).
Employment in Sabah and Sarawak is regulated by the Labour Ordinance of the respective states. Employees in Sabah are entitled to 14 paid public holidays a year while those in Sarawak are entitled to 16 days, with four fixed holidays on National Day, Yang di-Pertuan Agong's Birthday, the State Governor's Birthday and Labour Day. The provisions on compensation for work done on paid holidays are identical to the Employment Act 1955.
Public holidays by states and federal territories
|2020 Date||Date if not fixed by Gregorian date||English name||Malay name||
FT Kuala Lumpur
|1 January (Wed)||New Year's Day||Hari Tahun Baru|
|14 January (Tue)||Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan|
|25 and 26 January (Sat and Sun)[G1][J1]||1st and 2nd days of the first lunar month (January–February)||Chinese New Year||Tahun Baru Cina||Nationwide[D1]|
|1 February (Sat)||Federal Territory Day||Hari Wilayah Persekutuan|
|8 February (Sat)||Full moon in the month of Thai (January–February)||Thaipusam||Hari Thaipusam|
|4 March (Wed)||Anniversary of Installation of the Sultan of Terengganu||Hari Ulang Tahun Pertabalan Sultan Terengganu|
|22 March (Sun)[G2]||Rejab 27||Isra and Mi'raj||Israk dan Mikraj|
|23 March (Mon)||Sultan of Johor's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Sultan Johor|
|10 April (Fri)||Friday before Easter (March–April)||Good Friday||Jumaat Agung|
|15 April (Mon)||Declaration of Malacca City as Historical City||Hari Perisytiharan Bandar Melaka sebagai Bandaraya Bersejarah|
|24 April (Fri)[A1][I1]||Ramadan 1||First day of Ramadan||Awal Ramadan|
|26 April (Sun)||Sultan of Terengganu's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Sultan Terengganu|
|1 May (Fri)[I2]||Labour Day||Hari Pekerja||Nationwide|
|7 May (Thu)||First full moon in May||Wesak Day||Hari Wesak||Nationwide|
|7 May (Thu)[L]||Hari Hol of Pahang||Hari Hol Pahang|
|10 May (Sun)[G3]||Ramadan 17||Day of Nuzul Al-Quran||Hari Nuzul Al-Quran|
|24 and 25 May (Sun and Mon)[A2][H]||Syawal 1 and 2||Eid al-Fitr||Hari Raya Puasa/Hari Raya Aidilfitri||Nationwide|
|30 and 31 May (Sat and Sun)[G4]||Tadau Kaamatan||Pesta Kaamatan (Pesta Menuai)|
|1 and 2 June (Mon and Tue)||Gawai Dayak||Perayaan Hari Gawai Dayak|
|8 June (Mon)[M]||Yang di-Pertuan Agong's Birthday/King's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Yang di-Pertuan Agong||Nationwide|
|21 June (Sun)||3rd Sunday of June||Sultan of Kedah's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kedah|
|7 July (Tue)||Declaration of George Town as World Heritage Site||Hari Ulang Tahun Perisytiharan Tapak Warisan Dunia|
|11 July (Sat)||2nd Saturday of July||Penang State Governor's Birthday||Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Pulau Pinang|
|17 July (Fri)||Raja of Perlis's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Raja Perlis|
|22 July (Wed)||Sarawak Independence Day||Hari Kemerdekaan Sarawak|
|30 July (Thu)||Zulhijjah 9||Day of Arafah||Hari Arafah|
|30 July (Thu)||Sultan of Pahang's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Sultan Pahang|
|31 July (Fri)[A3][I3]||Zulhijjah 10||Eid al-Adha (1st day)||Hari Raya Qurban/Hari Raya Haji/Hari Raya Aidiladha (hari pertama)||Nationwide|
|1 August (Sat)[A4][K2]||Zulhijjah 11||Eid al-Adha (2nd day)[E]||Hari Raya Qurban/Hari Raya Haji/Hari Raya Aidiladha (hari kedua)|
|20 August (Thu)||Muharram 1||First day of Muharram||Awal Muharram (Maal Hijrah)||Nationwide|
|31 August (Mon)||National Day/Merdeka Day||Hari Kebangsaan/Hari Merdeka||Nationwide|
|16 September (Wed)||Malaysia Day||Hari Malaysia||Nationwide|
|24 September (Thu)||Safar 6||Hari Hol of Sultan Iskandar of Johor||Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar|
|3 October (Sat)||1st Saturday of October||Sabah State Governor's Birthday||Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah|
|9 October (Fri)||2nd Friday of October||Melaka State Governor's Birthday||Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Melaka|
|10 October (Sat)||2nd Saturday of October||Sarawak State Governor's Birthday||Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak|
|29 October (Thu)||Rabiulawal 12||Muhammad's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Nabi Muhammad (Maulidur Rasul)||Nationwide|
|14 November (Sat)[C]||Naraka Chaturdashi, the day preceding new moon in the month of Aippasi (October–November)||Deepavali[F]||Deepavali|
|6 November (Fri)||1st Friday of November||Sultan of Perak's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Sultan Perak|
|11 and 12 November (Wed and Thu)||Sultan of Kelantan's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kelantan|
|11 December (Fri)||Sultan of Selangor's Birthday||Hari Keputeraan Sultan Selangor|
|24 December (Thu)||Christmas Eve||Hari Sebelum Krismas|
|25 December (Fri)[I4]||Christmas||Hari Krismas||Nationwide|
|indicates the holiday is observed in the state/federal territory; indicates a two-day holiday|
|All holidays indicated as nationwide (except second day of Chinese New Year in Kelantan and Terengganu[D2]) are federal holidays.|
|A1 A2 A3 A4 subject to change based on sighting of the new moon|
|B was formerly observed on 17 May; amended to 17 July for 2018–2021 to avoid conflicting with observance of Ramadan|
|C subject to change based on astronomical considerations according to the Hindu almanac|
|D1 D2 The second day of Chinese New Year is not a federal holiday in Kelantan and Terengganu. However, it is gazetted as a state holiday in both states, effectively making it a nationwide holiday.|
|E federal holiday in Kelantan and Terengganu|
|F federal holiday in all states and federal territories except Sarawak|
|G1 G2 G3 G4 in states and federal territories observing the Saturday–Sunday weekend, the following Monday is a public holiday|
|H in states and federal territories observing the Saturday–Sunday weekend, the following Tuesday is a public holiday as Monday is also a public holiday|
|I1 I2 I3 I4 in Johor and Kedah, the following Sunday is a public holiday|
|J1 in Kelantan and Terengganu, the following Monday is a public holiday as Sunday is also a public holiday|
|K2 in Kelantan and Terengganu, the following Sunday is a public holiday|
|L in Pahang, with two public holidays falling on 7 May (Thu), the following day 8 May (Fri) is also a public holiday|
|M Amended from 6 June (1st Saturday of June) to 8 June for 2020. Subsequent Yang di-Pertuan Agong's Official Birthday will be observed on the 1st Monday of June for the duration of Al-Sultan Abdullah's reign as Yang di-Pertuan Agong.|
Types of holidays
Malaysia has one of the highest numbers of public holidays in the world, ranking number seven in the top ten countries after Thailand, Indonesia, India and Hong Kong. Some holidays are federally gazetted public holidays and some are public holidays observed by individual states. Other festivals are observed by particular ethnic or religion groups, but are not public holidays. The main holy days of each major religion are public holidays, taking place on either the western calendar or religious ones.
The most widespread holiday is the "Hari Kebangsaan" (National Day), otherwise known as "Hari Merdeka" (Independence Day) on 31 August commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya. This, as well as Labour Day (1 May), the King's birthday (9 September) and some other festivals are major national public holidays. Federal Territory day is celebrated in the three Federal territories. Malaysia Day, held on 16 September to commemorate the formation of Malaysia, became a nationwide holiday in 2010. Before that it was celebrated only in Sabah. New Year's Day is also observed as a public holiday in all Malaysian states, except for Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, and Terengganu.
Religious and ethnic
Muslim holidays are highly prominent in Malaysia. The most important of these is Hari Raya Puasa (also called Hari Raya Aidilfitri) which is the Malay translation of Eid al-Fitr. It is generally a festival honoured by the Muslims worldwide marking the end of Ramadan will the fasting month. In addition to Hari Raya Puasa, they also celebrate Hari Raya Aidiladha (also called Hari Raya Haji referring to its occurrence after the culmination of the annual Hajj or Hari Raya Qurban), Awal Muharram (Islamic New Year) and Maulidur Rasul (Birthday of Muhammad).
Malaysian Chinese typically hold the same festivals observed by Chinese around the world. Chinese New Year is the most prominent, lasting for 15-days and ending with Chap Goh Mei (十五瞑). Other festivals celebrated by Chinese are the Qingming Festival, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Malaysian Indians of the Hindu faith celebrate Deepavali, the festival of light, while Thaipusam is a celebration in which Hindu pilgrims from all over the country meet at the Batu Caves. The most important Sikh festival is the Sikh new year or Vaisakhi festival. Other important days are Lodi and Gurpurab. Other Indian and Indochinese communities observe their new year celebrations at around the same time, such as Pohela Boishakh of the Bengalis and Songkran (water festival) of the Thais. People in the northern states do celebrate the Thai festival of Loy Kratong.
Wesak (Malay for Vesak), the Buddhist festival commemorating Buddha's birth, is a public holiday. Malaysia's Christian community observes most of the holidays observed by Christians elsewhere, most notably Christmas and Easter. Good Friday, however, is only a public holiday in the two Bornean states. The harvest festivals of Gawai in Sarawak and Kaamatan in Sabah are also important for East Malaysians.
New Year's Day, Chinese New Year, and the start of the Islamic calendar are all public holidays.
Despite most of the festivals being identified with a particular ethnic or religious group, festivities are often participated in by all Malaysians. One example of this is the celebration of Kongsi Raya which is used when Hari Raya Puasa and Chinese New Year coincide. The term Kongsi Raya (which means "sharing the celebration" in Malay) was coined because of the similarity between the word kongsi and the Chinese New Year greeting of Gong xi fa cai. Similarly, the portmanteau Deepa Raya was coined when Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali coincided.
A practice known as "open house" (rumah terbuka) is common during the festivities, especially during Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Deepavali, Chinese New Year and Christmas. Open house means that all well-wishers are received and that everyone regardless of background is invited to attend. Open houses are normally held at the home of the host and food are also prepared by the host, however, there are also open houses held at larger public venues especially when hosted by government agencies or corporations. Also during the festivities, most Malaysians would take the time off work or school to return to their hometowns to celebrate the festivities with their extended relatives. This practice is commonly known as balik kampung and usually causes traffic jams on most highways in the country.
Festivals of Malaysia
- Islamic New Year / Ma'al Hijrah / Awal Muharam
- Maulidur Rasul S.A.W. / Maulud Nabi
- Isra' dan Mi'raj
- Awal Ramadhan
- Nuzul Al-Qur'an
- Hari Raya Aidilfitri / Hari Lebaran / Hari Raya Puasa
- Hari Raya Aidiladha / Hari Raya Haji / Hari Raya Qurban (Korban)
- New Year
- Holy Week
- Festa San Pedro (Kristang)
- Maha Shivaratri
- Panguni Uthiram
- Puthandu (Tamil New Year)
- Sri Rama Navami
- Chithirai Pournami
- Aadi Perukku
- Varalakshmi Virudham
- Sri Krishna Jayanthi
- Vinayagar Chathurthi
- Saraswathy Poojai
- Deepavali / Diwali (Festival of Lights)
- Karthikai Deepam
- Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year / Spring Festival
- Lantern festival / Yuanxiao festival (last day of the Lunar New Year celebration)
- Qingming Festival
- Duanwu Festival / Dragon Boat Festival)
- Ghost Festival
- Mid-Autumn Festival / Moon Festival
- Dōngzhì Festival
East Malaysian festivals
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