Thailand Festivals and Holidays Calendar
- All dates with a * are public and / or bank holidays.
- Thai festivals and holidays are either on a fix date or the date changes every year. In this case we added the year.
- If a public holiday occurs on a weekend, there will be a substitution day the following Monday. This way some weekends are longer and very likely to be travel time for Thai people.
* 1. January (fix) New Year’s Day
In Thailand there are three New Year’s days. The Western, on Jan 1st, the Chinese New Year on the first day of the First Lunar month, usually in February and the Thai New Year marked by the Songkran festival in April. Thais usually exchange gifts on January 1st.
February Chinese New Year’s Day
Chinese New year depends on the lunar calendar. It is on the second new moon day following Winter solstice, a day around December 22 in the northern hemisphere. Chinese celebrate their lunar new year with one week house-cleaning, lion dances and fireworks. This is also the time to pay respect to the ancestors. We invite our volunteers to take part in the celebrations for our family.
* March Makha Bucha Day / Magha Puja Day
This is in commemoration of a spontaneous gathering of 1,250 Sangha followers came to meet Lord Buddha 9 months after his first enlightenment. They were ordained by Lord Buddha and enlightened. Celebrated with candle light processions three times clockwise around the temple, usually in the evening. It is also a day when many people give alms like instant or canned foods and necessities like robes, incense and candles to the monks.
The date changes from year to year. It is always on full moon day of the 3rd lunar month, Makha.
* 6 April (fix) Chakri Memorial Day
Crowning day of King Rama I., March 20, 1737 – September 7, 1809, the first king of the Chakri dynasty. He moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok, retrieved Buddhist texts that were lost during the occupation of former capital Ayathaya by the Burmese, and wrote the Book of three seals, a new law codex.
13 April (fix) Therevadin Buddhist New Year
* 13 – 15 April (fix) Songkran Festival
Thais celebrate the lunar new year with a lot of water. Buddha statues are cleaned, you sprinkle water over the hands of monks and elders to show your respect – and everybody is having a lot of fun with tossing water around. If you attend don’t expect to stay dry. The best celebrations are in Chiang Mai and Pattaya, this holiday is perfect to plan a trip to Thailand for.
* 1. May (fix) National Labour Day
* 3. May Substitution for National Labour Day
* 5. May (fix) Coronation Day
King Bhumibol Adulyadej was crowned on 5 May 1950.
Phi Ta Khon Festival
Men masqueraded as spirits parade a Buddha image and tease bystanders while monks recite the ancient Buddhist tale of Prince Vessandorn, one of Buddha’s incarnations. His welcome back procession was grand enough to inspire the spirits to join the festivities.
Celebrated in Loei.
* May Royal Ploughing Ceremony Day
* May Visakha Bucha Day / Visakha Puja / Buddha Day
Also spelled Vesak, Wesak or Vaisakha and it is the name of this month in the Indian calendar. Celebration of Lord Buddhas birthday, enlightenment and death (attainment of Nirvana).
* 1 July Bank’s Mid-Year Day
* July Asarnha Bucha Day / Asalha Puja Day
Celebration to remind of the first sermon Lord Buddha gave to five disciples, introducing the middle way, the noble eight-fold path and the four noble truth. Celebrated with candle light processions.
* July Buddhist Lent Day
This marks the beginning of the Buddhist rain retreat which last three months. During this period monks are not allowed to sleep outside their temple. If they have to stay outside it should be limited to maximum of three days. Thai people buy big candles and offer them to temples.
* 12. August (fix) H.M. The Queen’s Birthday
This day also doubles as Mothers Day.
October End of Buddhist Lent Day Wan Awk Phansa
October Thot Kathin
The End of Buddhist Lent – This day is the end of the Buddhist Lent that lasts three month every year (see also 22 July). Buddhists will make merit and offer food and other necessary goods to the monks. Time for the robe offering ceremonies (“thot kathin”). These ceremonies are performed during one month.
Many activities originated on this day and have been passed on to the present generation such as the wax castle offering and illuminated boat procession to worship the Naga king.
October Naga Festival
Bang Fai Phaya Naga is said to be a natural phenomenon. Fireballs can be seen rising up from the Maekhong River on the night at the end of the Buddhist Lent. Many people come to Nongkhai every year, hotels are booked out a long time in advance, and traffic that evening is like Bangkok at rush hour. There is also a friendship boat race between Thailand and Laos during this time.
This day marks the end of the Buddhist ‘lent’ period or the Rains Retreat.
* 23. October (fix) Chulalongkorn Memorial Day
King Chulalongkorn or Rama V. is commemorated for the modernization of Thailand and thanks to his politics Thailand did not become a colony.
November Full moon night of the 12th lunar months Loy Kratong
Not an official holiday, but a festival you should not miss when in Thailand. People float little containers with a candle, joss sticks and a coin to thank the river goddess and get rid of their past years sins. This is a very romantic holiday for the Thai people as lovers will float their kratong together.
* 5. December (fix) H.M. The King’s Birthday
Also doubles as Thai Fathers Day.
* 10. December (fix) Constitution day
1932 the absolute monarchy became constitutional and the first step towards democracy was gone in Thailand.
* 31. December (fix) New Year’s Eve
People like to travel around these holidays. Transportation might be difficult if not arranged in advance.
Substitution means that those who can not celebrate the first date for business or other reasons, get the substitution day off. So better take all these dates into account.
In 1940, Thailand moved its New Year’s Day from April 13th to January 1st. The old New Year is still a holiday called Songkran. Years are counted as the Buddhist era (B.E.) which started 543 years earlier than the Christian era, therefore 2005 A.D. is the year 2548 B.E.
Most Buddhists festival and holidays follow the lunar calendar so their actual dates according to the Gregorian calendar vary from year to year. They also vary from country to country and also on the tradition a country or Buddhist group belongs to. Thailands Buddhist are in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism.
The Chinese calendar is one of the oldest. The day starts at 11 p.m. and the 24 hours are separated in 12 parts reigned by a zodiac sign. 2006 will be the year of the dog.
Most full moon days are dates for Buddhist celebrations. Some of them are official holidays.
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