Holidays in Thailand

With less than a month to go before I depart for Thailand, I have been working on three tasks: 1. Preparing cue cards with key Thai words and phrases; 2. listening to audio tapes of the Thai language; and 3. creating a new website for my new home –

hhen logoThe website will contain all sorts of useful information about living in Hua Hin and Thailand, including the holidays celebrated during the year. The list is quite interesting, including national holidays to observe mothers and fathers, and is presented below:

  • Jan. 1 – New Year;s day, national holiday
  • Jan 9, Saturday – National Children’s Day, Observance
  • Jan 16, Saturday – Teachers’ Day, Observance
  • Feb 8, Monday – Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day, Observance; The coming of the new year of the Chinese Lunar calendar is observed all throughout Thailand. Celebrations are prominent among the Chinese businesses and pocket areas, but it is not a public holiday and many shops stay open. It is widely celebrated by the Chinese population and is also enjoyed by people of other faiths.
  • Feb 9, Tuesday – Second day of Chinese Lunar New Year, Observance
  • Feb 10, Wednesday – Third day of Chinese Lunar New Year, Observance
  • Feb 14, Sunday – Valentine’s Day, Observance
  • Feb 22, Monday – Makha Bucha, National holiday; on the third lunar month, Buddhists meditate on the fundamental teachings of Buddha, mainly: to do good, to refrain from doing evil, and to cleanse the mind. Macha Bucha was believed to have begun nine months after Buddha himself achieved his enlightenment, when over a thousand of his disciples spontaneously gathered to see him. ‘Makha’ refers to the name of the third lunar month, and ‘bucha’ refers to veneration.
  • Mar 20, Sunday – March equinox, Season
  • Apr 6, Wednesday – Chakri Day, National holiday; each year on this day, Thais pay their respects to the monarchy through various religious ceremonies in the royal chapel. Chakri Memorial Day celebrates the leadership of King Rama I, who assumed the throne on this day in 1792. It was also the date when the new capital, Krung Thep (Bangkok) was founded. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the current king of the Chakri Dynasty, and is also known as King Rama IX.
  • Apr 13, Wednesday – Songkran, National holiday; Songkran is a widely observed holiday in Thailand. Many residents would travel back to their hometowns to celebrate it with their families, but the city remains busy thanks to the tourists who come for the festival. Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Sankranti’, and it marks the change of the solar year to another. It’s celebrations lasts for three days, mainly: ‘Mahasongkran’ which is the last day of the old year, ‘Wan Nao’ as the day after, and ‘Wan Thaloeng Sok’ as the day when the new year starts. It is also known as the Thailand Water Festival because throwing water on each other is part of the Songkran celebrations, symbolizing the washing away of bad luck. People can also make merit, by vising temples and offering food or alms to the monks. Songkran is also about paying respects to ones elders and ancestors.
  • Apr 14, Thursday – Songkran, National holiday
  • Apr 15, Friday – Songkran, National holiday
  • May 1, Sunday – Labor Day, National holiday
  • May 2, Monday – Labor Day observed, National holiday
  • May 5, Thursday – Coronation Day, National holiday; the current monarch of the Chakri dynasty is King Bhumibol Aldulyadej, or Rama IX. On this day in 1950, he was crowned king and is currently the country’s longest reigning monarch. Coronation Day is a national holiday. Celebrations start as early as May 3, where Buddhist monks would hold a service at the Grand Palace, and the official proclamation would be read by the Chief of Brahmin priests. On the day itself, a 21-gun salute is given by the Royal Thai Army and Navy. The king also honors citizens who have done excellent and outstanding work and services for the country.
  • May 6, Friday – Coronation Day, National holiday
  • May 9, Monday – Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day, National holiday; farming is one of the major sources of income for Thailand, and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony is an annual event that honors the ties between the monarchy, the government, and the farmers who help sustain the country. This is an ancient rite that marks the traditional start of the rice-growing season in Thailand, and it is also one of the country’s longest observed traditions that dates back to over 700 years. While it is mostly a religious ceremony, many state officials attend and participate in the rituals performed. Presently, the rituals are divided into two: The Cultivating Ceremony where the Lord of Harvest blesses the paddies, the seeds and the equipment. The second day holds the Ploughing Ceremony at the Sanam Luang near the Grand Palace.
  • May 20, Friday – Visakha Bucha, National holiday; known as ‘Vesak’ in other countries, this holiday celebrates three important events in the life of The Buddha: his birth, his enlightenment, and his death. These events all fall on the full moon of the seventh lunar month, and devotees come together to make merits in the temples, give alms to monks, wash Buddha’s images, and listen to Buddha’s teachings.
  • Jun 20, Monday – June Solstice, Season
  • Jul 1, Friday – Mid Year Bank Holiday, Bank holiday
  • Jul 18, Monday – Extra holiday, National holiday
  • Jul 19, Tuesday – Asalha Bucha, National holiday; the first day after the full moon of the eighth lunar month is signals the start of the Buddhist Lent. This runs for three months, and all monks and novices must stay in their temples for the entire duration. Only in extreme emergency can they leave, and even so they must not go beyond seven consecutive nights. Buddhist Lent is considered to be a time for intense meditation and contemplation, where all followers (laymen included) are enjoined to participate. The period ends on the eleventh lunar month, and is considered to be a time for happiness and celebration.
  • Aug 12, Friday – The Queen’s Birthday, National holiday; this is a national holiday celebrating the birthday of Thailand’s Queen Sirikit, King Bhumibol Aludjadej’s consort. As she is considered to tbe the mother of all Thais, this day is also celebrated as the country’s National Mother’s Day. Royal emblems decorate the Grand Palace, as well as buntings of yellow cloth with the Queen’s portraits are hung outside as decoration.
  • Aug 12, Friday – Mother’s Day, National holiday
  • Sep 22, Thursday – September equinox, Season
  • Oct 23, Sunday – Chulalongkorn Day, National holiday; King Chulalongkorn, or Rama V of the Chakri dynasty, was the monarch who successfully fought against the European colonizers. He was also instrumental in introducing modern conveniences to Thailand, including the installation of a postal and telegraph system, and the creation of a ministry. He was also key to the abolition of slavery.
  • Oct 24, Monday – Chulalongkorn Day observed, National holiday
  • Nov 15 – Loy Krathong; this is another event celebrated during the full moon, specifically on the twelfth lunar month. The moon is said to shine the brightest here, and the rivers are full. Thais gather on the river banks to light krathongs (small vessels made of banana trunks), which are then released on the river, making it a truly spectacular sight.
  • Dec 5, Monday – The King’s Birthday, National holiday; King Bhumibol Adulyadej was born on this day in 1927. Similarly to the Queen’s birthday, the national flag is displayed and buntings of yellow cloth with the King’s portraits are also put up.
  • Dec 5, Monday – Father’s Day, National holiday
  • Dec 10, Saturday – Constitution Day, National holiday; Thailand was once under absolute monarchy, back when it was still known as Siam. In 1930, the country was experiencing economic depression and Rama VII was not doing well in handling these issues. Through a peaceful coup, members of the People’s Party pushed to have a constitutional monarchy, where the power of the monarchy was reduced, but still remained the head of state, military, and defender of all religions.
  • Dec 12, Monday – Constitution Day observed, National holiday
  • Dec 21,Wednesday – December Solstice, Season
  • Dec 24, Saturday – Christmas Eve, Observance
  • Dec 25, Sunday – Christmas Day, Observance
  • Dec 31, Saturday – New Year’s Eve, National holiday

About 2bagsandapack

Lifetime journalist, author, magazine editor and publisher, now semi-retired and traveling the world. My plan, after living in Costa Rica for 14 months, was to visit a new country in southern Europe every three months to experience the culture and the challenge of adapting to a new environment, while on a fixed income. That plan was sidetracked when I was offered a job in Indonesia, providing an opportunity to explore Asia. Indonesia lasted for a 4 wonderful years but I have now moved on to Hua Hin, Thailand.
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