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National Day

National Day 2018 and 2019

National Day in Brunei is celebrated on 23 February every year and commemorates the day when Brunei gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1984.

201823 FebFriNational Day
24 FebSatNational Day Holiday
201923 FebSatNational Day

The culture of Brunei has continued to evolve over hundreds of years. In the 6th century, trade with China was common. After allegiance to the Majapahit empire, Hinduism left an impact. Ferdinand Magellan became the leader of the land by 1521, and then English adventurer James Brooke (more commonly known as Sir James Brooke) in 1841.

By the late 1880s, Brunei was known as a British protectorate. However, between 1941 and 1945, this was also the time of World War II, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler was trying to get world domination. After invading Poland in September 1939, he’d declared war on Great Britain and France. The war against Germany started, and World War II began.

Japanese people settled into Brunei during the war, one week after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Australian forces came a few years later in June 1945 to liberate the region.

By 1959, Brunei was considered a self-governing state with a new constitution and under Britain’s control. By January 1, 1984, the country gained its independence from the United Kingdom, after almost two decades of being considered a UK protectorate.

Although Brunei technically gained independence in January, full control away from the British didn’t come until February 23, 1984. Celebrating Brunei’s independence has continued on in the latter month as well.

Common celebratory practices for Brunei National Day include:

  • National parade
  • Mosque visits for prayers
  • Hoisting of the national flag
  • Public speeches

The Brunei flag was made to represent love of the rakyat (people), as a symbol of nationalism, patriotism and unity.

The story of the flag colors:

  • Yellow represents the color of royalty and symbolizes the sultanate
  • White band represents Brunei’s chief ministers
  • Black band represents Brunei’s chief ministers as well

The emblem inside of the flag:

  • Royal umbrella represents monarchy
  • Wings of four feathers represents justice, peace, prosperity and tranquility
  • Upraised hands represent the government keeping its word to take care of the welfare of its people
  • Crescent moon represents the state religion, which is Islam
  • State motto, in yellow Arabic script, states “Always render service with God’s guidance”
  • Ribbon represents “Brunei, the Abode of Peace

On the National Day in Brunei and beyond, tourists and locals come out to visit the river journeys, rainforests and to have prayer at the mosques, which is the dominant (70 percent) feature of the land. On National Day in Brunei, parade goers may also want to check out the famous Kampung Ayer, which is a group of clinics, homes, schools and shops, all perched on stilts above the Brunei River.