Holidays and festivities
This chapter will be about holidays and festivities in Thailand and we’ll begin chronologically with New Year, which is celebrated at three different occasions in Thailand.
The Thai New Year Celebrations
Officially New Years is celebrated according to the Chinese calendar which is notably different from the Gregorian. On the first day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar is when the New Year celebrations kick-off – usually in February but sometimes late January. The entire nation takes time off work to celebrate the new beginnings together with family and other loved ones. Only touristic businesses keep working as usual as this time of year is high season for tourism.
Thailand also has its own New Year which falls later than the Chinese one. It’s called Songkran and marks the beginning of the rainy season, the monsoon. Songkran is the absolute most important and appreciated festivity in Thailand and includes lots of water. Water is being splashed around basically everywhere, so if you visit Thailand during Songkran don’t be offended if someone pours a bucket of water over your head – it’s all in good spirit! Songkran takes place between 13th and 15th of April and is also widely celebrated in neighbouring countries like Myanmar and Laos.
In touristic areas New Year according to the Gregorian Calendar, Wan Sin Pi, that is on the 31st of December, is also a big event and celebrated accordingly.
One day at the end of February or beginning of March the Makha Bucha-Day is celebrated in memory of the large group of 1250 disciples that spontaneously gathered around Buddha to listen to his teachings many thousands of years ago. These 1250 then spread the wisdoms of Buddha which laid the ground for the religion. Buddhists visit the temples in the daytime and follow candlelit processions around the temples in the evenings.
On the 5th of May the coronation of King Bhumipol Rama IX is celebrated. People acknowledge shrines and portraits of the Royal Highness.
In Thailand, which is a Buddhist country, there is one day of the year when you can cleanse yourself from the sins you have committed during the past year. This day is called Loy Krathong and happens during the 12th lunar month. Loy Krathong is a beautiful festivity when people create lotus flowers of a variation of materials, fill them with candles, incense and often a coin or two, and launch them into the sea.
Many of the celebrations in Thailand is focused on water. This nation has always depended on the rain season to have a decent access to water also during the dry seasons. It explains why people in Thailand worship this element more than any other.
The King’s birthday and the National Holiday
Another very important holiday in Thailand is the birthday of King Rama IX on the 5th of December. People parade on the streets, waving flags, photos and other relics that have to do with the Royal Family.
Just five days later, on December 10th, the Constitution Day of Thailand is celebrated in memory of the same day in 1932 when Thailand was constitutionalized.
There are some more holy days and feasts in Thailand, below follows a compilation of them all:
- 1st January – New Year’s Day (Gregorian)
- January/February – Chinese New Year
- February/March – Makha Bucha Day
- 6th April – Chakri Day, Celebrating the Chakri Dynasty, Kings 1-9
- 13-15th April – Songkran
- 1st May – Labour Day
- 5-6th May – Coronation Day
- April/May – The Royal Ploughing Ceremony
- 28th May – Celebration of the birth and enlightenment of Buddha
- 1st July – Mid-year bank holiday
- 26th July – Candle festival Ubon Ratchathani
- 27th July – First day of lent
- 12th August – The Queen’s birthday and Mother’s Day
- 23rd October – Chulalongkorn, a feast in honour of King Rama IX
- 5th December – The King’s birthday, and Father’s Day
- 10th December – The Constitution Day
- 31st December – New Year’s Eve