New Year's Day. Celebrations for the start of the Christian New Year.
Chinese New Year A huge holiday, most Thai-Chinese businesses will close
the entire week. The ninth itself is a bank holiday.
Makha Buka Day. The full moon of the third lunar month marks the occasion
when 1,250 of the Buddha's disciples came to hear him preach.
Chakri Day. A public holiday, commemorating King Rama I who was the first
of the Chakri kings.
April 13, 14, & 15
Songkran Festival (see below).
May 1 and 2
National Labour Day. A holiday for some factory and office workers. The
first is a Sunday so the holiday occurs on Monday, the second. The banks
are closed but government departments and shops are open.
Coronation Day. A public holiday to commemorate the coronation of
the King and Queen in 1950
Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day. An important ceremony to mark the official
start of the rice-planting season. It is a holiday for government officials
May 22 and 23
Visakha Buka Day. The full moon of the sixth lunar month is the most
important date on the Buddhist religious calendar. Again, the actual day
falls on a Sunday, so the holiday for business, etc. is on Monday.
July 21 and 22
Asalha Buka Day is the 21st, followed by a holiday also on Friday,
the 22nd. To mark the start of the Buddhist Lent
Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday. Celebrations for the Queen's birthday.
This day is also Mother's Day and a public holiday.
October 23 and 24
Chulalongkorn Day. Once again, the main day falls on a Sunday, so
the Monday (24th) is the work holiday. A commemoration of King Rama V
who did a lot of important things for Thailand.
(see below )
His Majesty The King's Birthday. This day is also Father's Day as
The King is regarded as a father to all Thai people.
December 10 and 12
Constitution Day, A public holiday to commemorate the start of the constitutional
monarchy in 1932. The 10th is a Saturday, so it's celebrated on the Monday,
New Year's Eve, the biggest firework dsplay of the year.
Chinese New Year
The date of the Chinese New Year varies each year according to the Lunar
Calendar but falls in late January or early February. The celebration
officially lasts three days but you'll find that most of the shops close
down for a week surrounding the dates. There are many Chinese immigrants
in Thailand as well as people who have at least some Chinese blood, so
this holiday is widely celebrated. This is a family-oriented holiday and
a visit to friends and relatives is always in order. As such, almost everyone
is on the move (not just internally but throughout Asia!). This is the
only holiday during the year where nearly all the shops close down. If
you are in Bangkok at this time beware of the firecrackers everywhere.
These are to ward off evil spirits but the proper care is not always taken
with their use, to say the least. Be careful while walking down smaller
streets, especially with young children.
During April 13-15, everyone celebrates the traditional Thai new year.
In every home, Buddha images are washed with rose scented water. People
also pay respects to their elders by pouring a little water over their
hands. Outside, people go a little wilder and buckets of water are thrown
over everything that moves.
The word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit words for New Year and
was probably inherited along with Buddhism from India making its celebration
one of the oldest traditions in Thailand. During this auspicious celebration
Thais traditionally return home for family reunions, and visit temples,
sprinkling water on Buddha images in reverence. Meeting friends and sprinkling
water on each others' shoulders and hands is an act of wishing good luck.The
traditional gentle sprinkling of water in temples and homes is still practiced;
however, overzealous Thais and tourists alike have resorted to throwing
water at any passersby that dare to venture out of their hotel. It is
a splashy affair for all on that day, and generally a good way to beat
the heat in what is normally the hottest month of the year in Thailand.
Lately many revelers have taken to adding talcum powder or flour to the
water. The victims of this high spirited affair get a real whitewash.
Remember this date when you are in Bangkok. Leave your cameras and anything
likely to suffer water damage behind in your hotel room, because you
will get wet
Krathong The most picturesque of the Thai festivals is held on the
full-moon of the 12th lunar month. Little candle-lit krathongs (tiny flora
boats) are launched onto the water as an offering to Mother Water. People
apologize for polluting the water and promise to do better in the future.
The origins of this of this charming evening are not clear but it is the
most beautiful of Thai celebrations. One legend has the festival beginning
in the 13th century Sukhothai period when a young princess floated a small
boat laden with candle and incense downstream past a pavilion where her
husband was entertaining friends. It has grown to be one of the country's
most enchanting festivals. As the full moon rises, Thais fill tiny floral
boats with candles and incense and launch them into the rivers, canals,
ponds, and the sea to wash away sins and to bless love affairs. Join in
the fun: buy a kratong from a vendor, light the taper and incense, place
a small coin and a few hairs plucked from the head, say a prayer and send
it on its way on a pond or waterway. The celebration begins about 7.30
PM (after dark). Often, the Thai women will dress in beautiful traditional
Thai dresses on this night.
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