Popular Consultation Day

Observed as a public holiday in East Timor (Timor-Leste) on August 30th, Popular Consultation Day commemorates the referendum that occurred on this date in 1999, which paved the way for the country’s independence from Indonesia. Because this is a public holiday in East Timor, most businesses are closed, as are non-essential government offices and schools.

It’s also a day off for the general population, who use the holiday to attend one of the many holiday events that take place across the country. Events include parades, festivals, dances, open-air concerts, and fireworks displays.

The History of Popular Consultation Day in East Timor

East Timor was originally colonized by the Portuguese during the 16th century, even though the area was already inhabited by an indigenous population. It remained a colony of Portugal until declaring its independence on November 28, 1975.

East Timor’s independence wouldn’t last very long, however. Nine days after declaring independence from Portugal, the country was invaded by Indonesia. East Timor was then annexed and declared a province of Indonesia the following year.

On August 30, 1999, an independence referendum was held in East Timor. This referendum was held at the request of Indonesian President B.J. Habibie. He changed his position from previous Indonesian presidents because he felt that the province was too expensive to maintain. The transition wasn’t easy, however, as some residents of East Timor wanted their country to remain a special autonomous area of Indonesia.

Observing Popular Consultation Day in East Timor

This holiday is observed with military parades, open-air concerts, and dances. There are also cultural festivals, communal meals, and it’s a day when people visit with friends and family members to enjoy traditional dishes such as Batar Daan or Budu. It’s also a day off for the general population, and many businesses and government agencies are closed.

Where is it celebrated?
East Timor (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
August 30 Friday
Next year (2025)
August 30 Saturday
Last year (2023)
August 30 Wednesday