The Bloody Fantastic Poya Holiday on Stamps


Westerners are often amused at best and horrified at worst to realise that us lazy, brown people have a get-out-of-work-free card in the form of the full moon aka the Poya holiday. Basically, if the moon is out in all her glory, the Sri Lankan government insists that citizens be allowed to stay home in order to perform “religious observances” regardless of their actual religion or complete lack thereof. I personally like to raise a glass of Scotch to the good old moon and thank it for deciding to come out on a week day. When this full moon falls on a weekend, we unfortunately do NOT get an extra holiday. Somebody should recommend that though.

The downside of Poya is that they can’t sell meat or alcohol in our shops. This however is a minor obstacle, as many of us have a well practiced system of planning ahead and stocking up.

So anyway, Ceylon issued a set of four stamps in 1967 to commemorate the first anniversary of the introduction of this absurd but useful Poya holiday system. They feature different Buddhist shrines and the values are 5, 20, 35 and 60 cents. The best part about this issue is the sheer variety of first day covers they issued along with it. I have acquired four different ones featuring the 5 cent stamp and 35 cent stamp but research indicates that there are many more. 

First Anniversary of the Introduction of the Poya Day