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National Day

National Day 2018 and 2019

National Day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka that allows Sri Lankans to celebrate their nation’s sovereignty and history.

YearDateDayHoliday
20184 FebSunNational Day
20194 FebMonNational Day
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While Sri Lanka’s National Day is similar to Independence Day celebrations in countries like the United States and Greece, it also has some unique qualities. National Day in Sri Lanka is a holiday of patriotism and cultural appreciation. The holiday is celebrated on February 4 each year.

History

  • 16th Century Colonization Efforts

    As early as the 16th century, the economies of nations across the globe depended heavily on colonization to be successful. As a result of this, countries like Portugal and the Netherlands attempted to expand their spheres of influence into Southeast Asia. During these colonization campaigns, Portuguese stumbled upon an island with rich resources and an established population. The world would eventually know this island as Sri Lanka. The Portuguese understood that this island and its resources presented many opportunities for producing wealth. Because of this, Portuguese businesses attempted to colonize areas of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the Dutch also heard of the opportunities in Sri Lanka. The Dutch and Portuguese colonizers competed with each other for control of Sri Lanka.

  • Great Britain Colonizes Sri Lanka

    After Portugal and the Netherlands staked their claims in Sri Lanka, Great Britain began to expand its influence in Southeast Asia. In 1796, a British company established a colony in Sri Lanka. Eventually, Great Britain became the dominant power in Sri Lanka. With a powerful military and economy, the British Empire forced out its Dutch and Portuguese competitors. By 1810, Great Britain controlled the entire island. The British named the island Ceylon. While under British control, the resources and population of Sri Lanka were exploited and used to expand the production capabilities of British companies.

  • The Sri Lankan Independence Movement

    For many years, the people of Sri Lankan had no impact on the outcome of government decisions on their island. Instead, they were subjected to the decisions of British governors and businessmen. With the goal of obtaining Sri Lankan sovereignty, the middle-class people of Ceylon began a peaceful independence campaign that lasted for over 30 years. During the Sri Lankan Independence Movement, the people of the island petitioned government officials, educated the masses, and went on labor strikes. Eventually, support for an independent Sri Lanka expanded. On February 4, 1948, Sri Lanka became a dominion of the British Empire. In 1972, Sri Lanka officially became an independent nation that was not connected to Great Britain.

Traditions

After years of being subjected to colonial rule, Sri Lankans celebrate their culture and national identity on National Day.

  • Music

    Sri Lankans and travelers can enjoy the traditional music of Sri Lanka during National Day. This traditional music is often accompanied by colorful dance performances. This is a chance for people to learn more about the cultures of Sri Lanka.

  • Lectures and Panel Discussions

    Various lectures are held at universities during National Day. These lectures often address topics such as Sri Lankan history, colonization, and sovereignty.

  • Food and Tea

    It is a common practice for Sri Lankans and travelers to sample various kinds of food and tea on National Day. These food offerings often include the staples of the traditional Sri Lankan diet, so fruits and legumes are common. It should also come as no surprise that tea is a centerpiece of the samples offered on National Day. This is because tea is one of Sri Lanka’s largest exports.

  • Parades

    Many Sri Lankans express their patriotism by attending military parades and waving the flag of their nation. This allows Sri Lankans to show their appreciation for their nation’s current and fallen defenders.

  • Presidential Address

    Each year, the Sri Lankan president addresses his citizens to show appreciation for the military. He will often speak about the success of the country and the challenges of the future.

National Day is a public holiday that allows the Sri Lankan people to celebrate their culture and independence.