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, the 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-five 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 held 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 José Rizal.

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

Where is it celebrated?
Philippines (Regular holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
December 30 Monday
Next year (2025)
December 30 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
December 30 Saturday