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Dates in Indonesia: Indonesian Calendar with Holidays and More


It’s 9 AM.

You drive your motor scooter up to your favorite noodle soup place for breakfast, but with a cry of despair you find that it’s tutup—”closed.”

Scrawled on the sign is a phrase that you manage to make out as being “closed for national holiday.” A national holiday? How were you supposed to know?

This kind of situation is pretty common in Indonesia for foreigners. And one major cause can be traced to simple ignorance—not knowing how to talk about dates in Indonesian.

It’s an easy skill to overlook when you’re juggling a bunch of Indonesian resources to get a handle on the different vocabulary words that seem to fill the air wherever you go. But it’s no less important for day-to-day life, and as it turns out, just a little bit of studying can get you everything you need.

So without further ado, let’s look at a crash course for mastering dates in Indonesian. By the end of this article, you’ll be a step closer to giving the date in Indonesian like it’s nothing.

Table of Contents

  1. Dates on Paper
  2. Reading Years
  3. The 13 Most Important Months in Indonesian
  4. Days of the Week in Indonesian
  5. Saying Dates in Their Entirety
  6. Special Days
  7. How to Use Dates in Conversation
  8. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

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1. Dates on Paper


Before we concern ourselves with actually reading the dates aloud, let’s make sure that we know how to recognize dates when we see them, and how to write dates in Indonesian.

Indonesia is host to an enormous variety of local languages, many of them with elaborate traditional scripts like Javanese, Balinese, and Sundanese. You’ll see these scripts around town, but you can rest easy knowing that most Indonesians are significantly more comfortable with the Latin-based Indonesian alphabet, and by extension, its Arabic numerals.

So unless you’re a specialist, you don’t have to worry about learning dates in several alphabets. (Though you should, because they’re beautiful!)

Instead, dates are written day-month-year in Indonesian, like so:

  • 10-10-1910
    October 10, 1910
  • 3-12-2014
    December 3, 2014

Just knowing these basic formats will significantly help you with dates in Bahasa, Indonesia and elsewhere!

2. Reading Years

Any year is read out as if it’s a large number. This may be one of the most challenging things about reading dates out loud—they’re long words!

The way you end up differentiating between numbers and dates is pretty simple. It’s mandatory to say the word tahun, or “year,” to let your listener know you’re talking about dates.

So the dates below end up being pronounced as follows:

  • 1970
    tahun seribu sembilan ratus tujuh puluh
  • 2015
    tahun dua ribu lima belas

Also, you may notice that tahun, or “year,” is a noun and not a preposition. Indonesians rarely add prepositions before mentioning years, like English speakers would. But when they do, they would use pada which roughly translated to “on”:

  • Saya lahir tahun 1992.
    “I was born in 1992.”
  • Saya lahir pada tahun 1992.
    “I was born in 1992.”
  • Tahun itu Olimpiade diadakan di Barcelona.
    “In that year, the Olympic games were held in Barcelona.”
  • Pada tahun itu, Olimpiade diadakan di Barcelona.
    “In that year, the Olympic games were held in Barcelona.”

To talk about certain decades, Indonesians simply add -an (a suffix that turns words into nouns) to the year.

  • Saya anak 90-an (sembilan puluhan).
    “I’m a child of the 1990s.”

And what about talking about ancient history? Well, you’ll find that a lot of Indonesian texts use the acronyms CE/AD and BCE/BC. Those are read out just like normal letters—see our page on the Indonesian alphabet for that.

However, there are also common phrases for these eras, called Masehi for “AD/CE” and Sebelum Masehi for “BC/BCE.” The word Masehi is related to the word “messiah” in English, so it’s just another way of expressing the same concept.

  • 250 BC
    tahun dua ratus lima puluh sebelum Masehi

3. The 13 Most Important Months in Indonesian


Thirteen? Yes, actually. It’s not on the calendar, but there’s one month here that’s very important in Indonesian culture. I bet you’ll be able to recognize it right away.

Here are the months in Indonesian.

English           Indonesian
January           Januari
February           Februari
March           Maret
April           April
May           Mei
June           Juni
July           Juli
August           Agustus
September           September
October           Oktober
November           November
December           Desember
Ramadan           Ramadan

The holy month of Ramadan occurs at slightly different times each year because it’s based on the Islamic lunar calendar. But no matter your religion, in Indonesia you’ll know when it’s Ramadan, thanks to the prominent advertisements, banners, and TV specials. Not to mention the fact that so many places close down!

Silhouette of Woman Praying on Ramadan

By the way, don’t let the similarity of these months lure you into thinking you don’t need to learn them. If you say “August” instead of Agustus, no matter how loudly and slowly, it’s probably going to take the other person a little while to understand you, since the sounds and rhythms of the two words are different. Don’t ignore accent here!

In English and many European languages, we have to specify an ordinal number when we’re saying a day of the month. Not so in Indonesian—simply say the day and then the month, and you’re good to go. However, just like with the year, you’ll want to say tanggal, which means “date,” to specify you’re not just talking about a number.

  • Saya pergi pada tanggal enam Agustus.
    “I’m leaving on the sixth of August.”

4. Days of the Week in Indonesian


Days of the week are next in our guide to dates in Indonesian. The Indonesian names for the days of the week are based on the Arabic names, so if you’ve ever studied Arabic in the past, these will be a breeze.

Naturally, the names of the days have short forms for ease of writing—better have a look at those too.

English           Indonesian           Calendar Abbreviation
Sunday           Minggu           Min
Monday           Senin           Sen
Tuesday           Selasa           Sel
Wednesday           Rabu           Rab
Thursday           Kamis           Kam
Friday           Jumat (also spelled Jum’at)           Jum
Saturday           Sabtu           Sab

The word minggu also means “week” itself. The days are always capitalized, so you know that it’s just the ordinary noun if it appears in lowercase.

There are two commonly used words for “the weekend.” First we’ve got akhir minggu, which makes a lot of sense because it’s literally “the end of the week.” But people also use akhir pekan, for a reason you might not find in your Indonesian dictionary.

Pekan is interchangeable with minggu nowadays, but it originally came into use because in traditional Javanese and Balinese culture, a minggu wasn’t always fixed at seven days. With pekan, you always knew how many days you were dealing with.

5. Saying Dates in Their Entirety

Instructions on Putting Something Together

Let’s briefly review by putting what we’ve learned all together in one phrase.

We’ll start with the day, and we’ll add the word hari meaning “day” for the sake of clarity. The word pada is the equivalent of the English word “on” when referring to dates.

  • Pada hari Sabtu…
    “On Saturday…”

Then the date, the month, and then finally the whole year.

  • Pada hari Sabtu, lima belas Februari, tahun dua ribu enam belas.
    “On Saturday, the fifteenth of February, in the year 2016.”

All that gets written out numerically as 15-2-2016.

6. Special Days

As we’ve seen, the word for “day” is hari. Whenever there’s a special date on the Indonesian calendar, it’s likely to be called hari something-or-other. Here are a handful of examples:

  • Hari libur
    “Vacation day/day off”
  • Hari raya
    “Day of celebration/holiday”
  • Hari kemerdekaan
    “Independence Day”
  • Hari Kartini
    Kartini’s Day” (a famous fighter for women’s rights in Indonesia)

Whether you’re in school, on vacation, or at work in Indonesia, these days will affect you in some way. Businesses are often closed, for example, and it’s tough to know exactly when that’ll happen unless you’ve got an idea of when the libur days are on the calendar.

You can use these phrases to figure things out more precisely:

  • Apa ada hari libur bulan ini?
    “Are there days off this month?”
  • Apa toko ini buka pada hari kemerdekaan?
    “Is this shop open on Independence Day?”

During Ramadan, many shops have reduced hours, so you’d better find out:

  • Jam berapa tutup di bulan Ramadan?
    “What time do you close during Ramadan?”

7. How to Use Dates in Conversation

Two Women Chatting

So how do people end up talking about dates in real life? What are the situations and phrases you’ll need?

  • Hari ini hari apa?
    “What day is it today?”

Note with the above example that you might want to use the word mana meaning “which,” but instead, it’s correct to say apa meaning “what?”

  • Hari kelahiran saya tanggal satu April.
    “My birthday is April 1.”
  • Idul Fitri hari apa tahun ini?
    “What day is Eid al-Fitr this year?”

Lastly, let’s briefly discuss talking about “this,” “next,” and “previous” days and weeks. It’s a total piece of cake.

Essentially, the words besok meaning “tomorrow,” and kemarin meaning “yesterday,” also function as markers for days in the future and past, respectively. So by saying “Thursday tomorrow,” depending on the context, you could also mean “next Thursday.”

  • Boleh kita bertemu pada hari Jum’at besok?
    “Can we meet next Friday?”

For months and weeks in general, we’ll use the words depan meaning “future” and lalu meaning “already past.”

  • Saya lihat dia di sekolah minggu lalu.
    “I saw her at school last week.”

The word besok has a particular meaning in Indonesian culture. Much like if a child wants something and the parent says “we’ll see,” saying that an activity can happen besok is kind of shorthand for “who knows when it’ll happen.”

  • A: Boleh kita pergi ke Bali?
    B: Mungkin besok.

    A: “Can we go to Bali?”
    B: “We’ll see.”

8. Conclusion: How IndonesianPod101 Can Help You Master Indonesian

There’s simply no better way to learn something tough than to practice it. Frequently making yourself actually sound out the dates that you see written on paper is the number one thing that will rocket your learning to the next level.

One little tip for when you can work date-study into your everyday life: when you’re handling money. Glance at the date on the bill or the coin and think “What year is this in Indonesian?” You’ll be an expert in no time.

What’s the most valuable thing you learned in this lesson? Let us know, and how you plan to use it! And to practice, write today’s date in Indonesian. 😉

And as always, check out our Indonesian Blog for more resources coming out regularly! Also keep in mind that by upgrading to Premium Plus, you can take advantage of our MyTeacher program and learn Indonesian with your own personal teacher!

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