The Philippines celebrate Rizal Day in honor of its national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Rizal Day is traditionally celebrated every 30th of December, but recent laws which favor movable holidays “fixed” Rizal day on the “Monday nearest December 30”. It is a movable holiday and its exact date is determined through a Proclamation issued by the President (see List of 2010 Holidays). Why do we celebrate Rizal Day on the 30th of December?
There’s a bit of controversy in the date of the Rizal Day celebration. It is argued that the celebration should coincide with the momentous event which heightened the Filipino’s resolve to unite and seek independence. That event is the death of Rizal in December 30.
On the other hand, many believe that a holiday should commemorate a joyous occasion, such a birthday of an important figure or the liberation of the country. For instance, Andres Bonifacio was born on 30 November 1863 and so we have the Bonifacio Day in November 30 of every year.
Rizal was born on 19 June 1861, which is obviously not the date when we celebrate Rizal Day.
December 30 is the death anniversary of Rizal. On 30 December 1896, the 35-year old Rizal was marched from his detention cell in Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan (present site of the Rizal Park, formerly known as Luneta) and shot by a firing squad. He was sentenced to death after the Spaniards found him guilty of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal association.
Of course, December 30 falls during the Christmas season. The Philippines celebrates the longest Christmas season in the world. This fact is another argument raised why Rizal Day should be moved to June 19 — it is generally forgotten in December 30 because people are on a long Christmas vacation; hardly a time to reflect about what Rizal did for the Philippines.
So, do you think Rizal Day should remain in December 30? Or should it be moved to June 19?