Everyone looks forward to a holiday or vacation from school or work. While we recommend you put aside time every day for learning a new language, you can take breaks. Sustaining your learning schedule is the most important thing, after all. So which days would you choose to take off?
There are plenty of public holidays observed in Thailand, with many more religious and government-focused ones. Regional holidays are also not uncommon due to the diverse population of the country. All of this makes for an interesting year with lots of different celebrations, from splashing with water on Songkran to visiting temples on Asahina Bucha.
The word for a holiday in Thai is ‘wan yuud’ (วันหยุด). This describes any special event that occurs, such as festivals and religious events. Officially there are 19 holidays observed, though there are many more that are celebrated privately. Businesses must choose a minimum of 13 days each year to observe.
There are several days reserved for celebrating the royal family of the country, including the birth of the king. Then there are many days dedicated to Buddhist events, which will often see people head to the temples to pray and make merit with donations.
Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country, where the Theravada school of Buddhism is the most popular. To be expected, this plays a large role in some of the holidays observed in the country.
It is also worth noting that on some of the major religious occasions, some special rules are followed. For example, alcohol is prohibited to be sold and as such much of the nightlife venues will be shut.
While not officially observed, many of the bigger Western holidays have been commercially adopted for days of sales. Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and New Year are all examples of this. With the large size of Thailand, it is understandable that there are also many local holidays or unique celebrations for the big events. If you want to see something different, it is worth traveling around to different regions and cities.
Let's learn more about Thailand's key national holidays and other holidays in Thailand!
New Year's Eve or New Year's Day is the national holiday in Thailand. Thais celebrate the New Year with music, dance, and delectable cuisine. Many individuals will visit a Buddhist temple on the first day of the New Year for religious rites and offerings.
It is a traditional Thai celebration on the night of the full moon in the third lunar month. It will be a public holiday on February 16th in 2022. The event commemorates a pivotal moment in Buddhist history when over 1200 Buddha's disciples gathered to hear a discourse outlining essential Buddhist doctrines. A candlelight procession around the ordination hall of local temples will also be attended by many.
Thailand's current dynasty is the Chakri dynasty. This Buddhist monks-led festival commemorates the beginning of the dynasty and is celebrated at the Grand Palace. It is a time when people around the country pause to honor past and present monarchy.
Songkran is one of Thailand's most popular and well-known traditional holidays and tourist attractions. The three-day holiday is sometimes combined with the weekend to create a five-day vacation. Parades, religious events, and other celebrations are held around the country to celebrate the occasion according to the Thai calendar.
This holiday is highlighted with a huge water fight. It is linked to purification for the next year, bringing the rainy season for a healthy crop and fertility. Water pistols, buckets, and hoses are used to soak everyone's insight, and the practice of hitting the water on people has turned into a multi-day water war. Expect to be soaked if you visit Thailand during Songkran!
Labor Day is one of the national holidays in Thailand. Therefore many companies and schools are closed on this day, despite the lack of significant celebrations.
The coronation of Thailand's present king, King Bhumibol, is commemorated on this day. He became king in 1946 and is the world's longest-reigning monarch.
This Buddhist feast commemorates the Buddha's three significant life events: birth, enlightenment, and death. All three major events fell on a full moon of the sixth lunar month.
Asalha Puja day is traditionally observed in July or early August, according to the lunar calendar. This Thai holiday commemorates the first discourse of the Buddha.
Thailand's annual national holiday falls on August 12. The current Thai queen mother's birthday is celebrated on this day.
On April 15, 1950, Thailand became the first country to celebrate Mother's Day. Mother's Day was moved to August 12 in 1976, to honor Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, the Mother of the Thai people.
The life of late King Chulalongkorn is remembered on this day. According to Thai history, in the face of European colonization, King Chulalongkorn was instrumental in modernizing Thailand, creating religious freedom, and retaining Thailand's independence.
This day commemorates Thailand's current king's birthday as well as Father's Day. So, it is a public holiday for Thailand.
In 1932, Thailand became a constitutional monarchy. The signing of Thailand's constitution is commemorated on this day.
On the night of the full moon day, this event takes place. In 2022, the 8th of November falls on that date. It is a significant celebration, even though it is not a national holiday. People in Thailand worship the river goddess by floating lights along rivers, thus the name "The Festival of Lights."
People donate food and candles to temples and hold a variety of festivals, festivities, and religious ceremonies and rituals during Buddhist Lent.
Due to the many ex-pats and tourists visiting Thailand, some other major international holidays will be celebrated to some extent. This is usually relegated to just the main cities and tourist areas and is just loosely followed.
Christmas is one such example. Malls, shops, and some other buildings decorate using Christmas trees and signs while offering sales related to the holiday. Other than that though, not much else is done to celebrate.
New Year's Eve and New Year’s Day is also interesting occasion. As we have looked at before, the Thai calendar is different from that in the West, being 543 years ahead. The Solar Calendar is used instead of the Lunar Calendar, meaning that New Years' actually falls later. Songkran is the celebration of the New Year in Thailand which takes place around April time. Despite this, many Thai people still celebrate both New Years'.
For visitors to Thailand, it can be interesting to see what holidays they have. In addition, it can help when planning an itinerary as some people may want to visit during certain occasions but avoid some others. Traffic does get pretty chaotic, after all. Just like with polite words, being mindful of the culture will earn you more respect from the locals. Ultimately, I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the cultural aspect of Thailand.
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