Here’s a detailed look at all the public holidays in Sri Lanka for 2018 followed by a small description regarding the popular holidays.
|1 Jan||Mon||Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day|
|14 Jan||Sun||Tamil Thai Pongal Day|
|31 Jan||Wed||Navam Full Moon Poya Day|
|4 Feb||Sun||National Day|
|13 Feb||Tue||Mahasivarathri Day|
|1 Mar||Thu||Madin Full Moon Poya Day|
|30 Mar||Fri||Good Friday|
|31 Mar||Sat||Bak Full Moon Poya Day|
|13 Apr||Fri||Day prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day|
|14 Apr||Sat||Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day|
|29 Apr||Sun||Vesak Full Moon Poya Day|
|30 Apr||Mon||Day following Vesak Full Moon Poya Day|
|1 May||Tue||May Day|
|29 May||Tue||Adhi Poson Full Moon Poya Day|
|15 Jun||Fri||Id Ul-Fitr|
|27 Jun||Wed||Poson Full Moon Poya Day|
|27 Jul||Fri||Esala Full Moon Poya Day|
|22 Aug||Wed||Id Ul-Alha|
|25 Aug||Sat||Nikini Full Moon Poya Day|
|24 Sep||Mon||Binara Full Moon Poya Day|
|24 Oct||Wed||Vap Full Moon Poya Day|
|20 Nov||Tue||Milad un-Nabi|
|22 Nov||Thu||Ill Full Moon Poya Day|
|22 Dec||Sat||Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day|
|25 Dec||Tue||Christmas Day|
Sri Lanka celebrates 12 Poya Holidays in a year. Every time you see a full moon in the sky (usually one every month), you know that Sri Lanka is celebrating a Poya Holiday on that day. Most shops, all banks and all schools are closed on Poya days.
Each of these full moon days has its own name and significance according to the Buddhist religion. Since Sri Lanka is a Budhist country, all full moon days are declared as holidays.
- Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day: to mark the first time Buddha visited Sri Lanka after His enlightenment.
- Navam Full Moon Poya Day: celebrates the appointing of Buddha’s two main disciples.
- Madin Full Moon Poya Day: to mark Buddha’s first visit to his hometown – Kapilavastu.
- Bak Full Moon Poya Day: to mark Buddha’s second visit which was to make peace between two warring Kings.
- Vesak Full Moon Poya Day: marks Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and achievement of Nirvana.
- Adhi Poson Full Moon Poya Day: to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
- Poson Full Moon Poya Day: to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
- Esala Full Moon Poya Day: celebrating the arrival of the Tooth Relic and Buddha’s first sermon.
- Nikini Full Moon Poya Day: marking the retreat of Bhikkus after Buddha’s death.
- Binara Full Moon Poya Day: to mark the establishment of Buddhist Bikkhuni Order.
- Vap Full Moon Poya Day: to mark Buddha’s preaching to the Gods.
- Ill Full Moon Poya Day: to commemorate the ordination of 60 disciples.
- Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day: celebrating the arrival of the Bo Tree in Anuradhapura.
Other religious festivals
Tamil Thai Pongal
A popular Hindu festival marking the beginning of spring, the end of the farming season and the collection of the first food from the harvest.
A famous Hindu festival that celebrates the reverence of Lord Shiva. Shivarathri is the night when Shiva performed the dance of prehistoric creation, preservation and destruction. This festival also marks the re-marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
The Friday before Easter commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus. A day of mourning when the Christians meditate on the suffering and death of Lord Jesus.
Sinhala & Tamil New Year
Marks the start of the new agricultural season. As per tradition, elders give gifts of money to the young, as a mark of the first financial transaction of the year and is said to bring about good luck.
Vesak is the most important festival celebrated by Buddhists. The full moon on this day has special significance because this is the day when Buddhists believe he was born, attained enlightenment, and when he died.
A popular Muslim festival that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is a well anticipated holiday that calls for feasting, rejoicing and thankfulness in the Muslim community.
Another important Muslim holiday that is known as the “Feast of Sacrifice”. Charity is done in abundance during this festival, along with the sacrificing of animals.
Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights to mark the return of Lord Rama, from a 14 year exile. Hindus celebrate the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and purity over impurity.
A religious festival for Muslims celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad.
The most popular and most celebrated Christian festival is the birth of Christ – also known as Christmas. Exchanging gifts, decorating homes and singing carols are some of the traditions of Christmas around the world.
The 4th of February marks Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule and is celebrated in grand style throughout the country.
A holiday celebrated in many countries around the world to commemorate the achievements of the labor movement.