Multi-ethnic and multi-cultural, Malaysia has been the subject of British interest from the 18th century until the country’s independence from the latter’s rule in 1957. As the “Land of Mountains”, Malaysia enchants the nature lover with its rich flora and fauna, and delights the extreme backpacker with its cheap and delicious eats in Kuala Lumpur.
Like India, Malaysia has a long list of public holidays that apply to all states and apply to only a few states. Below is Malaysia public holiday schedule 2017 with celebrations that are observed nationwide. (Gregorian New Year is observed in all states except in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terangganu.)
New Year’s Day – Sunday, January 1 2017
Like any other countries globally, Malaysia also celebrates the New Year except in some states like Perlis, Kelantan, Johor, Terennganu and Kedah. Fireworks display filled the air along with enthusiastic celebrations of festive meal family get together. This is the time which is believed to abound prosperity, peace and love in the country.
New Year’s Day (observed) – Monday, January 2 2017
Maulidur Rasul – Saturday, 14 January 2017
Being a predominantly Muslim nation, Malaysia celebrates the Birthday of Prophet Muhammad in all states. This day is marked with the reading of the Koran and listening to sermons in mosques.
Chinese New Year – Saturday to Sunday, 28 January 2017 to 29 January 2017
Roughly 30% of Malaysians are of Chinese descent. On this day, Chinatowns are ablaze with red lanterns and are filled with the sounds and colors of lion and dragon dancing. Children get red envelopes called “ang pow” stuffed with crisp bills (not coins). Malaysian Chinese sometimes open their homes to anyone “open-house” style and invite everybody to the banquet.
Labor Day – Monday, 1 May 2017
Like the rest of the international community, Malaysia honors the social and economic contributions of their laborers to the advancement of their economy.
Wesak – Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Although 60% of Malaysians are Muslims, 30% are of Chinese descent and many of them follow the teachings of Buddha. For these Buddhist Chinese, the most important religious festival of the year is Wesak which celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. On this day, the devout make merits and perform acts of kindness like giving donations to the poor and the monks, lighting candles and burning incense and joss sticks at Buddhist shrines and temples, and reflecting on the precepts of Buddhism. This is also the day when Buddhists abstain from eating meat and consume vegetarian meals instead.
King’s Birthday – Saturday, 3 June 2017
This holiday celebrates the birthday of Yang Di-Pertuan Agong XIV. On this day, he will mark the occasion by inspecting the troops assembled in Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur. The rest of the day’s festivities are centered around “Trooping the Colour.”
Hari Raya Puasa – Monday and Tuesday, 26 to 27 June 2017
Fasting is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of this month long abstinence from food, sexual relations, and using profanities from sun up to sun down. After a long period of abstinence, the end of fasting is celebrated with extravagant banquets.
Merdeka Day – Thursday, 31 August 2017
On this day in 1957, the British flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the first time. To commemorate the country’s independence, the people join the Hari Merdeka Parade and elaborately decorated floats in Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur. Key personalities and top officials of the Malaysian government inspect the troops on this day.
Hari Raya Haji – Friday and Saturday, 1 September 2017 to 2 September 2017
The Feast of Sacrifice is one other major Islamic festival along with Hari Raya Puasa. On this day, families sacrifice four-legged animals according to established rites and distribute the meat to poor families. It is also during this day that the pilgrimage season to Mecca, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, ends.
Malaysia Day – Saturday, 16 September 2017
On this day in 1963, the Federation of Malaysia was established. Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore joined together to form what is today known as Malaysia, although Singapore later broke free from this union. The Malaysian flag is proudly waved on this day, and people join grand celebrations that feature cultural performances, indigenous music and extravagant fireworks held all over the country, with Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur the center of festivities.
Awal Muharram – Friday, 22 September 2017
The Islamic New Year is marked with prayer gatherings and reciting of verses from the Koran. Sermons are held in public spaces and mosques while the devout reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the new.
Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday – Friday, 1 December 2017
This is a purely religious festival to Muslims in Malaysia. This is to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad last 570 AD. Prayers, sermons, Koran recital verses and other religious activities are done. Muhammad’s birthplace in Mecca was transformed into a place of prayer.
Christmas Day – Monday, 25 December 2017
Malaysian Christians celebrate the birth of their savor on this day by spending the holidays with their families. The usual tradition of gift-giving includes the bestowing of “ang pow”, red envelopes that contain crisp bills, to children instead of the usual boxed gifts.