Holidays in Thailand
In Thailand, having the time to relax and celebrate with friends and family is important. With over a dozen public holidays throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate, and to experience the richness of Thai culture.
Some holidays in Thailand Thai festivals follow the Western calendar, and occur on the same date each year. Others are based on the lunar calendar, and their dates vary from year to year. If the date of a holiday or festival falls on a weekend, the next working day will be taken as a holiday. Here is a list of the most important holidays in Thailand.
Western New Year –December 31st – January 1st
In Thailand, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day are official holidays. Thais welcome the new year with music, dance, and good food. On the first morning of the new year, many people will go to a Buddhist temple, for religious ceremonies and making offerings.
Makha Bucha (Magha Puja) –Feb 7th, 2012
This is a traditional Thai holiday celebrated in the third lunar month, on the night of the full moon. In 2012, this falls on Feb 7th. The holiday celebrates an important date in Buddhist history, when over 1200 of the Buddha’s disciples gathered to hear a sermon laying out central principles of Buddhist teachings.
Chakri Day –April 6th
The current dynasty in Thailand is the Chakri dynasty. This holiday celebrates the founding of this dynasty, and it is when people throughout the country stop to pay respect to past and current royalty.
Songkran (Thai New Year) –April 13th-15th
Songkran is one of the biggest and most important Thai holidays. The 3 day celebration is often combined with the weekend to make a 5 day break. This holiday is celebrated with parades, religious ceremonies, and festivities throughout the country.
Water plays a big part in this holiday. It is associated with purifying things for the new year, bringing rain for a good harvest, and with fertility. The tradition of splashing water on people has grown into a multi-day water-fight, where water guns, buckets, and hoses are used to drench everyone in sight. If you are in Thailand during Songkran, expect to get wet!
Labor Day –May 1st
Although there are no large celebrations, Labor Day is a national holiday in Thailand, which means that many businesses and schools are closed on this day.
Coronation Day –May 5th
This holiday celebrates the coronation of Thailand’s current king, King Bhumibol. He was crowned king in 1946, and is the longest-reigning monarch in the world.
Visakha Puja –June 4th
This Buddhist holiday celebrates the three major events in the Buddha’s life: his birth, his enlightenment, and his death.
Asalha Puja Day –August 2nd, 2012
Based on the lunar calendar, Asalha Puja day is usually celebrated in July or early August. This day celebrates the day of the Buddha’s first sermon.
The Queen’s Birthday/Mother’s Day-August 12th
This day celebrates the queen’s birthday, as well as being Thailand’s Mother’s Day.
Chulalongkorn Day—October 23rd
On this day, the life of King Chulalongkorn is commemorated. King Chulalongkorn played an important part in modernizing Thailand, establishing freedom of religion, and maintaining Thailand’s independence in the face of European colonialism.
The King’s Birthday/Father’s Day-December 5th
This holiday celebrates the birthday of Thailand’s current king, and it is also the national Father’s Day.
Constitution Day –December 10th
Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932. This holiday celebrates the signing of Thailand’s constitution.
Other Holidays and Festivals
Loy Kratong—October 29th, 2012 This festival is held on the night of the 12th full moon. In 2012, this is 29 October. Although not a national holiday, this is an important festival. People honor the river goddess by floating candles down waterways throughout Thailand, leading to the name “The Festival of Lights.”
Buddhist Lent—August 3rd – October 30th
During Buddhist lent, people offer food and candles to temples, and hold a number of festivals, events, and religious ceremonies.