Malaysia’s National Day

Observed annually on August 31 in Malaysia, National Day is a holiday that commemorates the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule. This event occurred on August 31, 1957, as thousands of people gathered to shout at government officials in a declaration of freedom.

Today, the holiday is celebrated with a variety of events and celebrations. It’s a national holiday, so it’s a day off for the general population, and most businesses and non-essential government offices are closed for the day. It’s also a day when the Malaysian flag is proudly displayed on public buildings, businesses, and private homes.

The History of National Day in Malaysia

On August 31, 1957, approximately 20,000 people gathered at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur with the singular purpose of declaring independence for themselves. All of these people stood in solidarity and shouted “Merdeka” as their declaration of freedom from British colonial rule, a dream that was fully realized in 1963 when Malaysia was formed.

Malaysia was formed from the former British colony of Singapore and the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak joining the federation. That’s the event that’s now celebrated by National Day. However, in 1965, Singapore ended up leaving the Malaysian Federation and became the Republic of Singapore.

Observing National Day in Malaysia

The day begins in Malaysia with people hanging up the Malaysian flag everywhere they can. This can include homes, businesses, government buildings, and sometimes even vehicles. There are also parades, open-air concerts, theater and stage shows, exhibitions, and competitions.

Many of these take place in Kuala Lumpur, but there are also celebrations that occur across the entire country. It’s a public holiday for the general population and a day when people gather together with their friends and loved ones. This is a holiday to celebrate independence and at parade routes, people will often shout out “Merdeka!” in honor of the first declaration of independence in the country.

Where is it celebrated?
Malaysia (Federal public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
August 31 Saturday
Next year (2025)
August 31 Sunday
Last year (2023)
August 31 Thursday