Yemen: Holidays                                                          

Secular (non-religious) National Holidays in Yemen Include:

May 1                       Labor Day

May 22                     Unity Day–anniversary of the unification of North and South Yemen

September 26           North Yemen Revolution Day

November 30            Yemen Evacuation Day

Other official holidays are Muslim. There are two main Muslim holidays:

Eid Al-Adha (details below) – 4 days vacation

Eid Al-Fitr (details below) – 3 days vacation

Introduction to Muslim Holidays

The holidays listed below are Muslim religious holidays and are observed throughout the Arab world. Individual countries may have additional observances. Observances are based on the lunar calendar so the dates vary from year to year. Islamic months start when a crescent moon is actually sighted by the appropriate religious authorities, not when the calendar predicts the moon should be seen. Festivals and holy days might fall a day before or after the predicted dates—perhaps due to cloud cover or heavy rain.

Holy Days

  • Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar year. It occurs eleven days earlier each year.  During the month of Ramadan, Muslims must not eat, drink, or smoke between sunrise and sunset. Tempers may flair more easily during this month of fasting. Your Muslim friends who observe the fast will appreciate it if you refrain from eating and drinking in their presence during the fast. During Ramadan, restaurants are closed during the day although discreet provisions are made for non-practicing guests in most hotels. Business days may not operate normally during this period.
  • Eid ul-Fitr is the feast after breaking of the fast. The feast occurs at the end of Ramadan and lasts for three days. Children receive gifts and people wear new clothes.  During the feast, Muslims collect money and food for distribution to the poor. They may go to the Mosque on the first day of the holiday and may also spend time with family and friends. Some families may slaughter and eat a lamb on this date. They may share the meat with the less fortunate.
  • Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice, is celebrated at the end of a Muslim’s pilgrimage to Mecca called the hajj. Mecca is an important holy site located in Saudi Arabia. Many devout Muslims make at least one trip (or pilgrimage) to the site in their lifetime. Many shops are closed for a day or two during the Eid holidays. Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha last from two to seven days depending largely on what day of the week Eid begins.
  • The Islamic New Year is a cultural event which Muslims observe on the first day of muharram (the first month in the Islamic calendar). Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month and the Hijra (or migration) that the Islamic prophet Muhammad made to the city now known as Medina. Recently, some Muslims have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day.
  • The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram. It is commemorated by Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH (October 10, 680 AD). This day is of particular significance to Shi'a Muslims, who consider Hussein (the grandson of the Prophet) Ahl al-Bayt the third Imam and the rightful successor of Muhammad. Many Shi'as make pilgrimages on Ashura to the shrine in Karbala, Iraq that is traditionally held to be Imam Hussein's tomb. On this day Shi'a are in remembrance and mourning attire is worn. They refrain from music, since customarily in Islam when death has occurred music is considered impolite. It is a time for sorrow and respect of the person's passing, and it is also a time for self-reflection, when one commits oneself to the mourning of the Imam Hussein completely.

Other Muslim Holidays Include:

  • Al-Mawlid An-Nabi which celebrates the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.
  • Eid al-Isra wa al-Miraj which is a feast celebrating Muhammad's nocturnal visit to heaven.

Additional Notes

  • Friday is the Islamic day of rest; most businesses and services are closed.
  • All government offices, private businesses, and schools are also closed during Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.