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Thailand flagThai holidaysThailand Major Holidays

DatesNameCommemoration
January 1New Year's DayNew Year Greeting
February full-moonMakha BuchaSpontaneous gathering of 1,250 Buddha's disciples
April 6Chakri Memorial DayFounding of the Royal House of Chakri Dynasty
April 13-15SongkranThai Traditional New Year - The Water Festival
May 1Labor DayInternational Labor Day
May full-moonVisakha BuchaBirth, Enlightenment and Death of the Lord Buddha
July 28H.M. King's BirthdayH.M. King's Maha Vajiralongkorn Birthday in 1952
July full-moonAsalaha BuchaThe Lord Buddha's First Sermon
JulyKhao PhansaBeginning of the Buddhist rainy season retreat
August 12National Mother's DayH.M. Queen's Sirikit Birthday Celebrations
October 13King's Memorial DayCommemorates the death of King Bhumibol in 2016
October 23Chulalongkorn DayCommemorates the passing of King Rama V
December 5National Father's DayH.M. King's Bhumibol Birthday Celebrations
December 10Constitution DayInauguration of Constitutional Monarchy in Thailand
December 31New Year EveSalutations to the outgoing year
Several unofficial yet popular Thai and international holidays like Loy Krathong Festival, Chinese New Year, Christmas, Hanukkah and other are also widely celebrated in Thailand.
Thailand flag

Thai Lunar Calendar

While the official calendar in the kingdom of Thailand is the Western Gregorian calendar, a traditional Thai lunar calendar is very much in use mainly to determine Buddhists holidays. Thai ancient lunar calendar distinguishes itself from Islamic and other lunar calendars by being found based on the yearly agricultural cycle, as it was the most important aspect of the primarily agrarian society. Thai ancient lunar calendar is divided into 12 lunar months, like the western calendar, but the months are determined by phases of the moon rather than by a position of the earth in relation to the sun. Being based on the cycles of moon phases, half of the lunar months are 28-days-long and another half is 29. Thai lunar month is also divided into four weeks.

Thailand National and Public Holidays in 2009

Thu-Fri, January 1-2New Year's DayNational Holiday
Mon, January 26Chinese New Year of the OxPublic Holiday *
Mon, February 9Makha Bucha dayNational Holiday
Mon, April 6Chakri DayNational Holiday
Mon-Wed, April 13-15Songkran (Thai New Year)National Holiday
Fri, May 1Labor DayNational Holiday
Tue, May 5Coronation DayNational Holiday
Fri, May 8Visakha Bucha DayNational Holiday
Tue, July 7Buddhist Lent DayNational Holiday
Wed, August 12Queen's BirthdayNational Holiday
Fri, October 23Chulalongkorn DayNational Holiday
Mon, November 2Loy Kratong FestivalPublic Holiday *
Sat-Mon, December 5-7King's BirthdayNational Holiday
Thu, December 10Constitution DayNational Holiday
Fri, December 25ChristmasPublic Holiday *
Thu, December 31New Years EveNational Holiday

* During informal public holidays the government offices, banks, and other nationwide businesses are commonly open for business. Although government offices, schools, and businesses are closed during the national holidays, the bulk of the tourist attractions, shops, malls, as well as currency exchange booths are almost never closed.


Major Thai Celebrations Holidays and Festivals

Loi Krathong

Loy Kratong celebration
Fireworks and candles lit the spirit of Loi Krathong celebrations

Loy Krathong (or Loi Krathong) festival a.k.a. the Festival of Light is one of the most popular and truly romantic Thai traditional festivals. Loy Krathong means "to float a raft". Festival's exact date changes every year and it is not an official public holiday in Thailand. The festivities of Loy Krathong kick-off in the evening after dark.

The ritual of Loy Krathong is held on the full-moon night of the 12th lunar month (usually in November) to pay respect and observe the Goddess of Water. People gather all over rivers, canals, and lakes to release beautiful rafts (krathongs), usually covered with banana leaves, and adorned by flowers, joss-sticks, candles, and coins onto the water.

At the end of the rainy season, when the full-moon lightens up the sky, the spectacle of thousands of krathongs with their flickering candles sending a thousand pinpoints of light far away is a truly fascinating sight. If your candle stays alight until your krathong disappears out of sight, means a stroke of good luck.

Krathong
Krathong

Artistic public presentations of girls in Thai customary dresses, Thai traditional music along with dance performances, and beauty pageants accompanied Loy Krathong festival are called "Nopphamat Queen Contests". Highly popular amongst the general public, they take place all over Thailand: in kindergartens, schools, colleges, universities, and other private, public, and government establishments. The festival is also associated with the craft of fruit and vegetable carving contests and flower arrangement fairs.

According to legend, Nopphamat (also called Noppamas) was a consort of the 13th century Sukhothai King, Sri Indraditya, (also known as Phra Ruang) and she was the first to float a decorated krathong. However, as per a new tale, a woman of this name was the leading character of a novel released at the end of the reign of King Rama III, around 1850 CE. Noppamas character was written as guidance for girls who wished to become civil servants.

Chinese Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year Celebrations in Bangkok's Chinatown

Chinese New Year (January to February) usually celebrated for three days, starting on the day before the Chinese New Year's Eve. The dates of Chinese New year are observed according to the lunar calendar on the second new moon day following winter solstice (when the sun is at its southernmost point, December 22). Although not a national holiday, the Chinese Lunar New Year is extensively celebrated throughout Thailand with one of the biggest and vibrant festivities is held in Bangkok's Chinatown.


Lion Dance
Lion Dance Performance During Chinese New Year in Bangkok

The lion and dragon dances, sounds of the firecrackers and fireworks are integral features of Chinese New Year festivities. The drums will resemble the lion's heartbeat and help to show all the emotions the lion may feel. Red is the lucky colour that everyone wears in order to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. The streets of Yaowarat and vicinity (Bangkok's Chinatown district) are ablaze with red Chinese lanterns and banners, and of course great Chinese food all over.



Songkran

Songkran celebration
Throwing of water during Songkran celebrations

Songkran Festival (13 to 15 April) is certainly the biggest party of the year. Also known as traditional Thai New Year, the festival celebrates the end of the dry season, and has always involved water. Often called the Water Festival, it is the most celebrated event in Thailand. Everyone is happy, participating in the fun feast.


Songkran festival

Nowadays, Songkran is associated with exuberant water fights with water guns, hoses and the like. It is celebrated mainly in the streets, which are all wet. One big wild party, a water parade of sorts, a giant water-gun extravaganza and no one stays dry.

For additional info on Songkran refer to the title Khao San Rd.

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