Thailand Holidays – What Every Tourist Should Know

Magha Puja - Thailand Holidays

Every country has holidays which most people look forward to celebrating or commemorating and Thailand is no stranger when it comes to doing so. Thailand holidays aren’t just for the locals; they also attract tourists from different parts of the globe and each holiday has its distinctive purpose, traditions, and vibe. Know more about the holidays in Thailand to gain a better insight into the country’s culture.

Magha Puja

As a Buddhist country, one of the holidays in Thailand is the Magha Puja, which is a Buddhist festival of great importance. It is held on the full moon day of Magha, the eleventh month of the Hindu calendar, which is equivalent to the third lunar month that happens between mid-February and mid-March. The three general spiritual goals for this holiday are to refrain from sinning, do only good, and purify the mind. At the night of this holiday, all Thai temples hold a “wian thian” or a candlelight procession. The participants of the procession are mostly monks and congregation members. They proceed to circle around the ordination hall three times. Each round is meant for the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.

Chakri Day

On April 6, the founding of the Chakri Dynasty and Bangkok is commemorated. It is officially called Chakri Dynasty Day and the King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke the Great Day, the latter of which is the founding father’s name. The Thai flag is proudly displayed and traditional ceremonies like flower offerings are done by government officials and civilians alike.

Songkran

One of the most popular Thailand holidays is the Songkran, which is celebrated from April 13-15. It is considered the traditional New Year of Thailand. It is one of the Thailand holidays that tourists frequent because of the many festivities that allow them to immerse themselves in Thai culture.

The primary tradition done during the Songkran is to throw water at others. Water with beige-colored talc is smeared on people to bless them for the new year. The more religious ones visit Buddhist temples and offer food to monks in commemoration of Songkran. Buddha images are cleansed with water and Thai fragrance to give households and monasteries good luck and prosperity throughout the year. In some cities, a parade of Buddha portraits is conducted for people to toss water at them.  Aside from cleaning the Buddha images, people also opt to clean their houses during this holiday because it is believed that Songkran is a time for cleansing and renewal.

Royal Plowing Ceremony

The rice planting season begins in May and to hope for a good one, the Royal Plowing Ceremony is conducted in Bangkok and is presided over by the king. It is officially called Wan Phra Ratcha Phithi Phuetcha Monkhon Lae Charot Phra Nangkhan Raek Na Khwan and is also recognized as Farmer’s Day. Two oxen are guided to plough a ceremonial ground and are given food after the ceremony.

Other Buddhist Thailand Holidays

These include the Wisakha Bucha, Asalha Puja, the beginning of Vassa, and Awk Phansa.

Informally, Wisakha Bucha is Buddha’s birthday. Aside from Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment and achievement of nirvana are also commemorated during this holiday. Temples conduct Dharma sermons that feature Buddha’s teachings. Come nightfall, a candlelit procession of Buddha statues occurs. People are encouraged to be vegetarians on this day and do their best not to kill anything. In addition, as an act of liberation, caged and tortured animals are freed.

Asalha Puja happens in July and is the commemoration of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which is Buddha’s first discourse. Sermons and offerings occur throughout this day. The beginning of Vassa, on the other hand, is the Buddhist Lent. Monks go on a retreat for three months and people are discouraged from drinking alcohol and celebrating a major festival. At the end of three months, which is in October, the Awk Phansa marks the end of the Buddhist Lent and monks are given offerings of food and robes.

Other Thailand holidays include the birthdays of the Queen and King, the Chinese Ghost Festival, and Loy Krathrong. The Queen and King’s birthdays are on August 12 and December 5, respectively. The Chinese Ghost Festival is meant for spirits to roam around as it is believed that the doors of Heaven, Earth, and Hell are open. Loy Krathrong involves small boats laden with offerings to wash away sins.

There are other Thailand holidays that you can also experience though they would not be as popular as the ones mentioned above. Regardless, simply joining one or more of these festivities will give you more insight into the country and its people than a simple visit would have done.