Malaysians love a celebration, and the multi-cultural fabric of the country brings a vast and colourful variety to the festivals, feasts and parades and of this beautiful country. Malaysia holidays and celebrations range from solemn religious occasions to joyful festivities displaying the traditional costumes, dance and music associated with such special days as Independence Day, Chinese New Year and the Festival of Lights.
Holidays may be religious, ethnic, government-sponsored, or specific to individual states. Honouring the diverse ethnicity of its people, the Malay government has made the principal holiday of each nationality or religion into a public holiday. The most widely and exuberantly celebrated of all holidays is Hari Merdeka, or Independence Day, celebrating the August 31, 1957 date of Malaysia’s emancipation from Britain. Important national holidays include Malaysia Day, commemorating the formation of the federation in 1963; Labour Day; and the King’s Birthday. Many religious holidays centre on Muslim sacred days, as Islam is Malaysia’s official religion. During the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, the evening break-fast brings the grand feasts of the Ramadan bazaars. Malaysian Chinese celebrate such traditional holidays as Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. The Hindu Festival of Lights and the Christian holy days of Easter and Christmas are widely observed.
Although many holidays are specific to a particular religious or ethnic group, gregarious Malaysians enjoy a welcoming tradition of holding “open house” on many holidays, inviting friends and family to their homes for traditional feasts and fellowship.