Youth National Day

Youth National Day is a public holiday observed in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on the 12th of November. It honors the hundreds of people who were killed during the Santa Cruz Massacre on this date in 1991. What started as a peaceful assembly at a cemetery ended with Indonesian soldiers firing on students.

This singular event was a turning point in Timor-Leste’s struggle for self-determination, and the date is now widely observed by people across the country. The general population has this day off, and many schools, businesses, and government offices are officially closed.

The History of Youth National Day in East Timor

In 1975, Timor-Leste declared its independence from Portugal, but its independence was short-lived because it was almost immediately annexed by Indonesia. This led to the War of Independence, which lasted until 1999. On November 12th, 1991, thousands of students and other young people attended the funeral of Sebasti√£o Gomes.

He was an advocate for the independence movement who had been killed by the Indonesian army. When the mass concluded, the crowd marched to the Santa Cruz cemetery, where they began waving flags and singing songs about freedom. Unfortunately, Indonesian soldiers fired upon the crowd with automatic weapons.

It is estimated that as many as 271 people were killed during the event. This massacre became the rallying cry for independence. On August 30th, 1999, the East Timorese Independence Referendum was held.

Observing Youth National Day in East Timor

This holiday is observed with parades, political speeches, concerts, and sporting events. It is a day off for many people in East Timor and is a day when people can spend time with friends and family members enjoying great food.

Speaking of food, some of the dishes enjoyed on this holiday include Fuuntaul Tong and Gailong (soup made with beef, lettuce, egg, rice, and red beans), Tapai (a fermented rice dish), and Feijoada (a dish made with pork, chorizo, and cannellini beans).

Where is it celebrated?
East Timor (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
November 12 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
November 12 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
November 12 Sunday