Enjoying public holidays and celebrations in your new country

Enjoying public holidays and celebrations in your new country

18th October, 2012

I have already discussed how immersing yourself in the culture of your new home country helps you feel more at home and gain a better sense of belonging. Enjoying public holidays and celebrations in your new country are also a great way to meet new friends, with the local people in a celebratory mood. If you’re not 100% sure what’s being celebrated and why, ask someone to explain the fine detail. They’ll probably be delighted!


We release new Country Guides every month to support expats and help them build positive, happy, fulfilling new lives abroad. Here are the details of major celebrations in just three of the countries we cover.

Public holidays in Gibraltar

Gibraltar celebrates the same public holidays as Britain, plus Workers Memorial Day in late April and Gibraltar National Day, celebrated on 10th September.

  • New Year’s Day – 1st January, or the first working day after New year’s eve
  • Commonwealth Day – 12th March
  • Good Friday / Easter Monday – Easter moves around, so check Google
  • Workers Memorial Day – late April – a day of remembrance for those who lost their lives, have been disabled, injured or made ill while at work
  • May Day – 1st May, or the first working day after 1st May
  • Spring Bank Holiday – Early June
  • Late Summer Bank Holiday – late August
  • Gibraltar National Day – 10th September – Commemorating the rock’s first sovereignty referendum, back in 1967, where Gibraltarians chose British sovereignty over Spanish
  • Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Public holidays in Belgium

Many of Belgium’s public holidays revolve around the Christian calendar, with a National Holiday on July 21st.

  • New Year’s Day – 1st January or the first working day after 1st January
  • Easter Sunday and Monday – variable
  • Labour Day – May 1st
  • Ascension – 39 days after Easter
  • Pentecost and Pentecost Monday – 49 days after Easter and the Monday after Pentecost
  • Belgian National holiday – July 21st
  • The Assumption of Mary – August 15th
  • All Saints Day – November 1st
  • Armistice Day – November 11th
  • Christmas Day – December 25th

There are also plenty of fascinating annual events that don’t come with a public holiday attached:

  • Epiphany – January 6th
  • Valentine’s Day – February 14th
  • Iris Day – May 8th (Brussels region only)
  • The Day of the Flemish Community – July 11th – only observed by the Flemish community
  • The Day of the French Community of Belgium – September 27th – French only
  • Day of the Walloon Region – 3rd Sunday in September – Walloon Region only
  • All Souls’ Day – November 2nd
  • The Day of the German-speaking Community of Belgium – German speakers only
  • King’s Feast – November 15th
  • Saint Nicholas’ Day – December 6th

Public holidays in Japan

Japan has a host of exciting national days of celebration covering every aspect of life.

  • New Year’s Day – January 1st
  • Coming of Age Day – the second Monday in January
  • Foundation Day – February 11th – intended to nourish the people’s love for their country
  • Vernal Equinox Day – Around March 20th – A day for admiring nature and the natural world
  • Showa Day – April 29th – when people reflect on the Showa period, the beginning of the ‘Golden Week’ holiday
  • Constitution Memorial Day – May 3rd
  • Greenery Day – May 4th – a special day set aside to commune with nature and be grateful for its wonders
  • Children’s Day – May 5th – dedicated to children and their happiness
  • Marine Day – 3rd Monday in July – a day of gratitude for the oceans
  • Respect for the Aged Day – 3rd Monday in September – a day to celebrate age and wisdom
  • Autumn Equinox Day – around September 3rd
  • Health and Sports Day – 2nd Monday in October – celebrates cultivating a healthy mind and body
  • Culture Day – November 3rd – celebrating peace, freedom and culture
  • Labour Thanksgiving Day – November 23rd – a day for praising labour and production
  • The Emperor’s Birthday – December 23rd

Have you experienced a public holiday in your new country that changed your life? We would love to hear about it.

If you have any questions or thoughts on the points covered in this post, feel free to leave a comment or connect with us @now_health on Twitter or on the Now Health Facebook page.

Our detailed expat country guides

For more information about making a success of your move abroad, why not download our free eBook, The New Expat, which covers medical considerations, family matters, accommodation issues, financial arrangements and much more. You might also enjoy our special country guides, which include the ins and outs of living as an expat.

Image source: Pondspider

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Alison Massey

Group Marketing Director

Now Health International

Alison Massey is a 15-year digital marketing veteran, who has spent the last seven years using social media to help expats and soon to be expats find out what to expect from a life overseas. An expat living in Hong Kong herself, Alison is the Group Marketing Director of Now Health, the award-winning international health insurance provider.

Contact Alison Massey

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