Rizal Day

Celebrated on December 30th in the Philippines since 1898, Rizal Day is a commemorative holiday that commemorates the life of José Rizal – a man many consider to be one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines. Since this is a National holiday, workers are entitled to holiday pay under the Holiday Pay Rule of the Philippines.


José Rizal – José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda – was born on June 19th, 1861. He was a novelist, poet and ophthalmologist, but is really known for being a Filipino nationalist and revolutionary. For several years he lived in Europe, where he became part of the Propaganda Movement and advocated for reform in the Philippines. During this time, he wrote his first novel – Noli Me Tangere – a novel that chronicled the cruelties of Spain’s colonial rule in the Philippines. A book that made him a target when he returned briefly to the Philippines.

José would return to Europe and while there would write several more books and articles. Eventually, he would travel back to the Philippines in 1892 to further advocate for freedom in the Philippines. These actions resulted in his exile to Dapitan, Mindanao. While there, he took on patients and worked as a doctor.

Three years later, he would travel to Cuba to work as an army doctor. However while he was there, Katipunan – a Filipino nationalist society revolted. Although José Rizal wasn’t affiliated with this particular group, he was arrested as a dissident. He was then subsequently convicted of sedition and received a death sentence. On December 30th, 1896 he was executed by firing squad. José Rizal was just thirty years old at the time.

His execution further solidified the opposition to Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines, and by 1898 Spanish rule over the country was finished. In 1898, President Emilio Aguinaldo declared December 30th as a national day of mourning for José Rizal and all other victims of Spanish rule. Rizal Day is celebrated to this day.

Customs, Traditions And Celebrations

Most of the official ceremonies performed on Rizal Day are performed at Rizal Park in the city of Manila. During this official ceremony, flags are flown at half-mast and the President of the Philippines lays a wreath on the shrine dedicated to Jose Rizal.

Most workers have the day off as a fully paid work day. However, those who do have to work on Rizal Day receive twice their normal day of wages.

Where is it celebrated?
Philippines (Regular holiday)
When is it?
This year (2023)
December 30 Saturday
Next year (2024)
December 30 Monday
Last year (2022)
December 30 Friday