Thailand Calendar Festivals, Holidays, Events

Thailand Public Holidays and Festivals

General Information

Below is a list of celebrated Thai holidays, celebrations and festivals. If a Thailand Public Holiday falls on a weekend then the next working day is considered a holiday and banks and big businesses will probably be closed. The chart below offers volunteers and visitors a quick look at Thailand public holidays and festivals. It is followed by longer explanations of the holidays through the eyes of Thai volunteer hosts and interns.  Also, if you have any suggestions, corrections or ideas to include contact Yoon at info@mundoexchange.org.

Thai Holidays, Thai Festivals Chart

2010 / 2553 Thai PUBLIC HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
1 January New Year’s Day 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

9  January Children’s Day
16 January Teacher’s Day
14 February Chinese New Year 

Time for house cleaning, paying respect to family and ancestors, festivals, and   parades thoughout Thailand.

28 February 

1  March (Substitute)

Magha Puja or Makha Bucha Day 

Honors Buddha and his 1st teachings or sermon to his disciples.

(Thailand Public Holiday)

6  April Chakri Memorial Day 

Celebrates the current dynasty of King Rama I to IX,

(Thailand Public Holiday)

13-15 April 

(In some areas the 16th and 17th are also celebrated.)

Songkran Festival 

Thai New Year’s – Fun, family, and lots of water being thrown to celebrate the season.

(Thailand Public Holiday)

1  May 

3  May (Substitute)

Thailand Labor Day 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

5  May Coronation Day – Celebrating the current King Rama IX becoming King of Thailand 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

13 May Royal Plowing Day – Ancient Royal Family and Thai farmer ceremony of planting of rice, weather, crops. 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

28 May Visakha Bucha or Visakha Puja – Buddha Day for Thailand 

Holy Buddhist day celebrates his birth, enlightenment & entry into Nirvana

(Thailand Public Holiday)

May to June Rocket Festivals in Laos and Thailand – Rockets are launched to bring good crops and weather for farmers in Isan and elsewhere in Thailand
12-14 June Ghost Festival in Loei 

Phi Ta Khon Festival – Monks and locals welcome back Buddha to earth

26 June Celebration of the famous Thai poet, Sunthorn Phu
1  July National Scout Day 

Thai Banks Mid Year Day

(Thailand Public Holiday)

26 July Asanha Bucha Day or Asanha Puja Day – Candle, incense and temple time 

Candle Festival Day

(Thailand Public Holiday)

27 July 1st Day of Buddhist Lent – Wan Kao Phansa 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

12 August 

13 August (Substitute)

Queen’s Birthday & Mother’s Day 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

10-12 September Bueng Khan Long Boat Racing Festival
23 October Wan Awk Phansa – End of Buddhist Lent
23 October 

25 October (Substitute)

Chulalongkorn Day – Celebrates King Rama V’s life and accomplishments 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

23-24 October Naka Fireball Festival (Nong Khai Province)
24 October Thot Kathin –  End of Buddhist Lent: Robes Offering Ceremonies Begin 

Monks come out of temple after three months and Thai Buddhists give them new robes and other gifts in appreciation (lasts for 30 days)

21 November Loy Kratong Day – To respect the water & water goddess, Thais float small banana leaf boats on the rivers and other water ways
3  December International Day of Persons with Disabilities
5  December 

6  Dec (Substitute)

King’s Birthday & Father’s Day 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

10 December Constitution Day or Democracy Celebration 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

24 December Christmas Eve
25 December Christmas Day
31 December New Years Eve or Wan Sin Pi 

(Thailand Public Holiday)

Thai Holidays, Thai Festivals, Thai Celebrations Explained

Introduction to the Thai Calendar

Most calendars in Thailand use the Buddhist Era (B.E.) rather than the Christian Anno Domini (A.D.) in Latin, or in English “the year of Christ our Lord”. In Thailand, B.E. or the Buddhist Era started 543 years before A.D. As an example, the year 2010 in A.D. would be the year 2553 B.E. in Thailand. Some scholars dispute both dates.

There are many Thai holidays, festivals, and celebrations, some of which are unique to districts, towns, areas, and religious groups. Other important dates on the Thai calendar are observed by all the people throughout the country. Dates change and are variable because many Buddhist holidays and Thai festivals are dependent on the lunar calendar and full moon days. We recommend that people be careful to double check the correct dates of the holiday they are intending to see, for they will vary on the western Gregorian calendar. Most Buddhist holidays in Thailand are dependent on ways and cultural decisions of the Theravada sect of Buddhism.

An “*” denotes Thailand Public Holidays, when banks and businesses in Thailand are often closed.

Thai Calendar

Major Holidays and Festivals

JANUARY

*New Year’s Day: Thailand Public Holiday

January 1, 2010

Thais don’t stop with just one New Year’s celebration. They celebrate New Year’s on January 1st just as in many Western countries, but Thais also celebrate New Year’s two more times during the year. They celebrate Chinese New Year’s in February, showing respect for the Chinese Thais who have played a large part in running important businesses and government posts in Thailand. Then again they celebrate New Years, this time on April 13th during the Thai celebrations, holidays, and festivals of Songkran. Volunteers go to the homes of Thai hosts and friends and show respect to Thai elders and, of course, make and eat great Thai food to bring in the New Year, whenever it may be. Thailand travelers, tourists and volunteers should consider booking train, bus and air tickets early if traveling during this time, and it is also a good idea to make reservations ahead of time in Thai hotels, guest houses and such.

This New Year’s Day is another family day. The government makes 4-5 days holidays. Most of Thai people go back to their hometown to visit their family. Some families take their parents out to the waterfall, sea, etc. to do some activity together. Most of them they do the celebration at home.

Children’s Day

January 9, 2010

Children's Day.

Kids Dance on the Children's Day.

This celebration began in 1955 and is a time to celebrate the children of Thailand. Many Thai families go out or stay at home and celebrate the children or the future of Thailand. Volunteers and other visitors to Thailand take presents to orphanages, celebrate with Thai families and show love and respect for the Thai children.

The Children Day is the second Saturday in January, every year. Every school will celebrate on Friday, 1 day before Children Day. School will invite the kid’s parents come to school too. They do a lot of activities for the kids. The kids will prepare their own present and bring to school. At school they put a number on the presents, they pick up the ticket with the number in it. The kids are very nervous about this part and they really enjoy their present. On Saturday, many parents will take their kids paces they want to go and do some activity together. It’s another day of for family.

Teacher’s Day

January 16, 2010

The first Teacher’s day in Thailand was held on January 16, 1957.  Students and Thai people in general remember the importance of teachers in their lives. They recognize teachers are their supporters and givers of light or knowledge.  In the morning of Teacher’s day, schools all across Thailand hold a ceremony for their teachers called “Wai Kroo.”  This ceremony takes place on the Friday before Teacher’s Day if Teacher’s Day falls on a weekend.

The students will bring offerings to the Wai Kroo ceremony. One of the things included in the offering is a bouquet of flowers. The are four plants used in the bouquet that are symbolic in the following ways:

1.    Dok Kem, a beautiful pink Thai flower, in Thai language it is the same word for needle, and refers to wisdom or talent.

2.    Ya Praik, Bermuda grass, symbolizes patience and persistence because the grass often looks drooping and weak, but it is actually alive and robust.

3.    Dok Makhue, the eggplant flower, symbolizes respect, because when the plant has flowers its branches bend down in the same way a Thai student bends down to pay respect to their teacher.

4.    Khao Tok, popped rice, symbolizes discipline for the Thai people because they think that frying rice all together in a pan is similar to a group of people going through a difficult experience to improve themselves, like students working hard in school.

The offering of flowers usually comes with three incense sticks and a candle. Together with the flowers, they represent the Triple Gem (the Lord Buddha, his teachings, and his disciples).

Bun Koonkao or Bun Koonlaan

Lunar Calendar – Varies

After harvest season the farmers will celebrate the new rice at their yard. In the evening, they will invite the monks to their yard and have a chant for the new rice. In the morning of the next day, they will invite the monks again to have breakfast there. After they are finished having the meal, the monks will do a ceremony to celebrate the new rice and then they will take it into the grange. Then it’s time for the farmer to begin collecting dried woods for cooking in the forest. This ceremony is really difficult to see at the present time. In some areas, it’s already completely gone from their culture.

FEBRUARY

Chinese New Year

February14, 2010

Chinese New Year’s is a time of lion dances, fireworks, house cleaning, visiting, and contacting friends and family. It is a time to pay respect to one’s ancestors and elders.

Makha Bucha Day

February 28, 2010

It was 9 months after the Buddha got the Enlightenment, on the full moon day of 6th lunar month, 45 years before the Buddhist era. On the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month of the year, there was 4 special events happened:

The  Buddha became Enlightened on the full moon day of the sixth lunar month, 45 years before the beginning of the Buddhist era.  Nine months after that, on the full moon day of the third lunar month, several special events took place. On that day, 1,250 Sangha followers came to see the Buddha in the evening.  This was spectacular because none of the followers had spoken about this meeting before hand, yet 1,250 showed up at the exact same time.  All of these followers were “Arhantas,” meaning Enlightened ones, and all were ordained by the Buddha himself.  The Buddha gave these Arhantas the principles of Buddhism, called the “Ovadhapatimokha.”  There principles were: to cease from all evil, to do what is good, and to cleanse one’s mind.
Another important event also took place on the same day 44 years later. It was the last year of the Buddha’s life. On that day, he made the decision to “Parinibbhana Nirvana,” or leave the mind from the body and die, and told his followers of his decision. Three months after that day is Visakha Bucha Day, which celebrates the Buddha’s birth and death.

Bun Kaojee

Lunar Calendar – Varies

On the day of the full moon of the third of lunar month, there is one ceremony called “Bun Kaojee” or “Sticky-rice barbeque festival”. It’s also a big Buddhist holiday, Makabucha. The people wake up very early to make sticky-rice barbeque. This is how they do it; they will make sticky-rice as a peace, covered by salt and barbeque on the shackle fire. And they will cover by egg and barbeque it again. Then they will bring to the monks at temple. If you visit Isaan at this time you will see this festival and enjoy sticky-rice barbeque.

MARCH

There are no major holidays or festivals during this month that we can find.

APRIL

*Chakri Memorial Day: Thailand Public Holiday

April 6

For many Thais, this day is a day to show respect to the Chakri dynasty: both to the current King of Thailand, as well as all those who have ruled since 1782 who are a part this family. This day is also used to honor Bangkok that twas founded in 1782.

The List of Chakri Kings

1. Buddha Yodfa Chulalok the Great (Rama I)

2. Buddha Loetla Nabhalai (Rama II)

3. Jessadabodindra (Rama III)

4. Mongkut (Rama IV)

5. Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V)

6. Vajiravudh (Rama VI)

7. Prajadhipok (Rama VII)

8. Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII)

9. Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX)

*Songkran Festival: Thailand Public Holiday

April 13-15, 2010

Songkran in Nongkhai.

Songkran, Thai New Year.

Songkran was once New Year’s in Thailand and still honored by many Thais. During this time, the famous Songkran festival is celebrated in not only Thailand, but also in Cambodia, Myanmar/Burma, and Laos.

Songkran is viewed by many Western visitors as a time of throwing water on all who come near, be they monks, police or young children. This celebration is during the hot, hot, hot season and the water is good fun. It is also a time for Thais to honor elders and to pay respect to family and friends.

Songkran is the traditional New Year of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and eastern India. The word “Songkran” is from the Sanskrit meaning the beginning of a new solar year. Sometimes, it’s called “water war” by the foreigners. Thai people believe in this festival as the family day. The custom is to use water to release the heat in April and to show respect, make apologies, and show forgiveness to each other.

In the morning, during these three days, the people go to the temple to give food to the monks. After that, they put the Buddha image on their truck or cart and parade around the town, giving people the opportunity to water him. Young people bring the holy water and water the hands of older people to apologize, and the older people forgive and bless them to have good luck. The people also bring sand and donate it to the temple, putting the flag on top. It looks very pretty.

There is a great deal of fun to be had. Celebrators throw water on passing people all the time. You do not need to change your dress if you want to join them. Most people are soaking all day. Please stay at your place if you want to be dry. That’s our suggestion.

MAY

National Labor Day

May 1, 2010

*National Labor Day: Thailand Public Holiday – Substitute

May 3, 2010

*Coronation Day: Thailand Public Holiday

May 5, 2010

Coronation Day signifies when H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej was crowned Rama IX in 1950. On May 3rd and 4th there are also ancestral, Brahmanic, and Buddhist ceremonies. Thai leaders, both civilian and government officials, are honored for their contributions to Thai society. To Thais it is know as Wan Chatra Mongkon.

*Royal Plowing Day: Thailand Public Holiday

May 13, 2010

Royal Plowing Day, or Royal Ploughing Day, is an ancient ceremonial rite that signifies the beginning of the planting season. In Thailand, this rite goes back to the Sukkothai Kingdom. It supports the rice farmers and predictions are made about the local weather and harvests. In Thailand, it was discontinued and brought back as a Royal Ceremony by H.M. King Bhumibol Adulyadej. This ceremony is celebrated in several other Asian countries such as Cambodia, Burma, China, and India. Royal Plowing Day is usually in May, but its exact date is dependent on the lunar calendar.

Visakha Bucha Day

May 28th, 2010

Visakha Bucha Day, the full moon day of sixth lunar month, is one of the most important days of Buddhism, because of three important incidents in the life of The Buddha happened on this day: the birth, the enlightenment, and the passing away. Miraculously, these events all fall on the same month and date, the Vesak full moon day. Every year, Buddhists throughout the world gather together to perform the worship to recollect the wisdom, purity and compassion of the Buddha.

The Buddhists will go to the temple, and some people transform to wear white and to meditate and stay there over night. In the evening, the local people go to the temple to listen to the teaching from the monks and carry the candles around the Ubosatha, a sacred building within the temple complex, three times. They do chanting or wishing while they are walking. After they walk around three times, they will put the candles under the trees or around the Ubosatha. It’s a very nice and peaceful evening.

Rocket Festivals

Rocket Festival.

Rocket Festival.

Lunar Calendar – Varies

The “Rocket Festival” or “Bun Bangfai” is one of the most famous festivals in Isan. The major province where this festival takes place is Yasothon, but you will find rockets going into the Isan skies all throughout the area. The Thai people will start launching rockets in the mid-May to mid-June, during the sixth lunar month.

Traditionally, this festival was created to ask for the rain from the god, Praya Thaen, who lives in the heavens. Many believe that if they don’t send up rockets, Praya Thaen won’t give any rain for local farmers to grow crops. This festival is one of the things the locals have to do every year before starting the planting season.

The local people will donate some money to make the rockets. In the past, they used lengths of big bamboo to contain the powder gun. Now they often use big plastic pipe, which is more dangerous. Don’t get too close when you join the shooting ceremony – be at least 100 meters away from the rockets.

Before the local Thais bring the rocket to the shooting field, they decorate the rocket and put it on a big truck. Then they will have the dancing parade around the village before they go to the shooting field. Do not miss the parade because it is very beautiful and, again, do not be too close to the rocket when they are shooting. Enjoy the Rocket Festivals of Thailand.

JUNE

Celebration of Thai Poet Sunthorn Phu

June 26, 2010

His poems and stories like “The Story of Phra Abhai Mani” are enjoyed by both Thai adults and children. Sunthorn Phu was a great Thai Poet and he was the great poet of the world too. He created so many poems during his life. Most of his poems were created when he was on his journey. Inside those poems he described about the life of the people and the environment in that time. Some of his poems and stories become very famous and they have been put in some of the books that they use in school.

JULY

National Scout Day

July 1, 2010

National Scout Day dates back to July 1, 1911 when the organization was brought about by King Rama VI. King Rama VI is remembered as “The Father of Thai Scouting.” Scouts throughout the nation at school are taught to respect Thailand and the King, help others, and also to help the environment. Volunteers are asked to join scouting activities throughout the year, camping, helping to improve the environment and celebrating the scouts of Thailand.

*Thailand Banks Mid-Year Day: Thailand Public Holiday

July 1, 2010

Asanha Puja Day: Thailand Public Holiday

July 26, 2010

The Asanha Puja Day is one of the most sacred days in Buddhism as it marks the coming into existence of the Triple Gem: the Lord Buddha, his teachings (the Dharma), and his disciples (the Sangha). The day falls on the full moon day of the eight lunar month (July). It is the anniversary of the day on which Lord Buddha delivered the first sermon to his first five disciples at the Deer Park in Benares over 2500 years ago.

To observe this auspicious day, Buddhists all over the country perform merit-making actions and observe Silas (Precepts). Some people go to the temples to give food and offerings to the monks, and they also listen to a sermon to purify their minds. The Asanha Puja Day always falls on the day preceding the Buddhist Lent, which starts on the first day of the waning moon of the eighth lunar month.

The Candle Festival in Nong Khai

July 26, 2010

Candle Festival.

Candle contest.

The candle festival in Nong Khai and elsewhere in Thailand is amazing. The candle festival is a celebration of the beginning of Buddhist Lent, and is a time to remember past Buddhist teachings. It is also a time when, usually men, but also women, may enter the monastery. In Bali it is called Sangha. It usually happens in July and takes place on the 14th or 15th day of the waxing moon of the 8th lunar month.

There are parades where large candles and Buddhist images are taken around towns and cities. Thais parade though streets of small Isan villages, as well as other Thai cities and towns. Prior to the Nong Khai parade and festival, gigantic wax candles are created at a local Buddhist temple. The artists depict various patterns and other Buddhist and Thai symbols like the traditional lotus flower. The candles are important, for they represent enlightenment and are often given to those staying and living at Buddhist wats. Various institutions like schools, colleges, and universities, as well as public and private organizations, will also craft and organize a colorful candle procession with music and dancing, all leading to a temple where the offering of the candle will be made.

In Nong Khai, the parade will start in the afternoon at the Nong Khai fountain. At night, volunteers can go to see all the candles at Wat Pho Chai, the main temple of Nong Khai. Many people will go to the temple and carry small candles and lotus flowers around the chapel for three times and make a wish. Often, as volunteers, we light our candles and carry them around our Thai host’s wat three times, thinking of ways to make ourselves and the world better. Some of our Buddhist friends then refrain from various vices like gambling, drinking, smoking during Buddhist Lent. Others try to make amends with those they feel they have wronged or have been hurt by too.

The Beginning of Buddhist Lent or Wan Kao Phansa: Thailand Public Holiday

July 27, 2010

Buddhist Lent, or Kao Phansa, is when the monks stay in the temple for three months meditating, learning, and teaching about Buddhist doctrine and ways.

AUGUST

Queen’s Birthday and Mother’s Day

August 12, 2010

This is a very important and special day for Thailand. In 1950, the Thai government made an agreement that April 15th of each year would be Mother’s Day in Thailand. The government wanted the people to think about how important the mother is, to praise her, and to show respect to their mother. The kids were told to bring the jasmine flower to the mother and ask her to forgive everything that they had done wrong and to ask her for blessing.

In 1976, the Thai government changed the Mother’s Day to August 12, the same day as the Queen’s birthday. There are celebrations around the country on this day. Jasmine is the symbol flower of the mother who gave birth to every child.

On Mother’s Day, the Thai people do many things to celebrate. Many will put the nation’s and the queen’s flags in front of their house, and will do various activities to show respect to the queen and their mother. Thai people also maintain the old tradition of bringing the jasmine flower to their mother to ask for forgiveness and blessings.

*Queen’s Birthday: Thailand Public Holiday – Substitute

August 13, 2010

Long boat racing ing Buengkhan.

Long boat racing in Buengkhan.

SEPTEMBER

Bueng Khan Long Boat Racing Festival

September 10-12, 2010

In Bueng Kan, as well as in other places throughout Thailand, the people gather to watch various Thai teams compete in the rivers. In Bueng Kan, the Thais compete with other Thai teams and also Laos teams. Celebrations, food, music, dancing, and parades are presented. This small town becomes so full of visitors from all over Thailand and around the world that volunteers have a hard time believing it is where we help our rural children and adults.

OCTOBER

Wan Awk Phansa or End of Buddhist “Lent”

October 23, 2010

This is the special day which ends Buddhist Lent. It is also known as the Vassa Retreat or sometimes called the Rain Retreat. In Thai it is called Wan Awk Pansa (Owk Pansa) and means the day of leaving the rainy season and it is on the day of the full moon. It marks the end of a three month practice of meditation and retreat for many Buddhist monks. It is said that this tradition began when Buddhist monks from India retreated together to study and meditate during the monsoons. The exact day of Awk Pansa or the end of Buddhist lent is based on the lunar calendar.

Following Wan Awk Pansa is Thot Kathin, or the giving of the robes, on October 24.

Naka Fireball

October 23-24, 2010

The “Naka fireball” or “Bang Fai Payaa Nak” happens at the End of Buddhist Lent every year. The local people call the fireballs “Bang Fai Pee” or “Ghost fireball”. It’s pink mixed red or orange. There is no smoke, no sound when it shoots up from Mekong River. It happens once every year.

Many people have tried to prove it scientifically how this happens, but still no one can give the right answer. In the story of Buddhist way, or the local people believe, that the Naka celebrated when the Buddha came back to the earth after teaching his mother in the heaven, who had passed away after he was only seven days old. Each world: heaven, earth, and hell, celebrated the coming back of the Lord Buddha happily. The Naka they shoot the fireball out of their mouth up from the river to do the celebration. The story goes that the Lord Buddha opened all three worlds and let them see each other’s. The reason for this was to teach them to do good things and allow them to see the possible results of what they have done. The people know this day as “Wan Pra Jao Purt Lok” or “Day of God Open the World”.

On this day there are lots of people going to the temple, bringing food to the monks, and listening to Dharma from the monk. They also donate merit they have made to their relatives who passed away already.

Here in Isan the fire balls may be viewed rising from the Mekhong River, usually around the end of Buddhist Lent. Streets are crowded with people looking to see the fireballs rise from the water. Some locals believe these fireballs which can go into the air up to 25 metres and may be the size of a small golf ball to a bit larger are from the Naga. People start watching for them around 5:30 to around 9 at night. There is also Thai food, fun and laughter. Locations vary but most go to Phon Phisai. Other hopeful viewers head for Bung Kan, Sri Chiang Mai and even to rivers and lakes in the Isaan country side.

The Naga Fireball Festival often brings cultural conflict of sorts. There are many local farmers in Laos and Thailand who truly believe these fireballs are a result of the Naga. Others who come to visit their Mekong River believe the balls are a result of decomposing organic matter which creates gasses that come to the surface during the full moon pull. To villagers whose life depends on the waters of the Mekong, other lakes and rivers and who believe in this form of Buddhism, animism and that Naga’s or mythical snakes travel the rivers we believe we should show respect. It is a great time for sharing Isan culture, experiencing new ways, music, food and even boat races throughout Isan.

Chulalongkorn Day

October 23, 2010

“Chulalongkorn Day” or “Piyamaharaj Day” as we say in Thai, is celebrated on the 23rd of October each year. It is the day that our King Chulalongkorn, or King Rama V, died. The Thai people called him ‘Pra Piya Maharaj’ or ‘Pra Buddhajao Laung’. He is one of Thailand’s most important kings in the past.

This day honors the celebration of the life and works of King Chulalongkorn, Rama V. This Thai King is one of the most important and respected Kings of Thailand and was known throughout the world. He began his reign from the age of 15 in 1868 and died on October 23, 1910. When he became King of Thailand the country was controlled by a small group of rich families. The young King was sickly but brilliant and believed that his country, Thailand, was in need of social, military, financial and educational change. The rich families that opposed his interests in reform, as well as those Western nations who were trying to take over nations through colonization and imperialistic acts soon understood and respected King Rama V’s internal strength and intelligence. Because of King Chulalongkorn universities were established, literature and the arts began to flourish, and he prevented Thailand from being colonized.

The King was astute and knew better than to fight the wealthy, power hungry families in Thailand or the Western powers who were trying to take over land and the rights of others throughout the planet. He also knew it was useless to try to shut Thailand off from the Western barbarians. So what he did was begin his own type of diplomacy. To learn more about his social justice reforms, cross-cultural exchanges and brilliant actions of government reform you may go to many good websites and books. One short writing can found at http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990823/rama1.html.

King Chulalongkorn brought about many reforms to help the people of Thailand. In August of 1874 King Chulalongkorn began to abolish slavery. He did this in a very intelligent way.

He realized that over 1/3 of the Thai people were slaves. Thai slaves and their children were designated this position of “slave” for life. The rich in Thailand liked having slaves for then they could make more money. King Chulalongkorn presented the Thai people with the Royal Slave Abolition Act which included giving Thai children of slaves the right to be free by the age of 21 or to work to buy their freedom before that age. This act was the beginning of the end of Thai slavery in this country.

King Chulalongkorn was also the first to show interest in western countries such as France, England, the United States and Russia. He spent a great deal of time learning about their history and political ways. His innovation and skills in diplomacy shaped the future of Thailand, so the Thai people honor him each year.

*Chulalongkorn Day: Thailand Public Holiday – Substitute

October 25, 2010

Thot Kathin

October 24, 2010

Thot Kathin or Thord Pha Gathin which means the giving of robes. Other transliterations are Thod Kathin and Tawd Gathin. Thot Kathin begins on Awk Pansa, the day of the full moon. It is not a specific day but is a 30 day period of merit making and celebration for many Thais. Thot Kathin means the laying down of robes.

Once you are in Isan ( Issan, Isaan, Esarn) many volunteers and visitors will often hear

from their Thai friends that during Thot Kathin it is important to give to the Buddhist

monks and wats. Offerings of food, saffron robes, writing materials, and other items

the monks may need are given as a thank you for all the community and religious work

that many Thai monks do for villages and the people of Thailand. Some of our Thai

friends make money trees of bamboo and then parade to their home temples asking

strangers and friends to attach various baht notes. This money is then taken to selected

Thai temples by a group of villagers or town’s people and musicians. It is a time of celebrations, giving, looking inward and also a time to honor Buddha and remember his teachings.

Other Attractions During October

*Chumphon Boat Races where contestants race and unlike other Thai boat races the winning rowers must have a participate on the boat grab a flying flag at the end of the race. Great food and festivities. Email tatchumphon@tat.or.th

*Chiang Mai Tee-Off Cup October 24-31. Golf competition: http://www.thaiteeoffservice.com.

Great fun for golfers and those who just can’t get enough of this sport.

*139th Chonburi Buffalo Races October 16th through the 22nd. Great fun while farmers from all over the province bring their wonderful buffalo to Chonburi City to race. The festival has been going for 100’s of years. There is traditional Thai music and dance, parades, beauty contests and not only for the buffalo but the farm women too. Some volunteers report that beer and eggs are fed to the buffalo prior to being ridden by the farmers. Great, great Thai fun and merriment for farmers, locals and visitors.

*Wax Castle and Boat Racing Festival in Sakhon Nakhon, parades showing beautiful beeswax carvings of Buddhist temples. This Thai Festival starts October 17th and ends on the 24th. Artists from around the province display and compete to show their work. There are boat races and many types of local food. It is a time to celebrate the Buddhist holiday, Awk Phansa Day: the end of Buddhist Lent.

*Phuket Vegetarian Festival October 7-17. Our Chinese Thai friends hold parades and go on a vegetarian diet. Participate at their temples and enjoy the celebration in Phuket, Thailand. The procession starts early morning in Phuket Town, not the beach. There is “jay” or vegetarian food. Learn more at jamie-monk.blogspot.com. Even meat eaters will not be disappointed.

*Trang Vegetarian Festival October 7-16th. This festival in Trang offers respect to Lord Shiva and other gods and Buddhist souls. There are dragon dances, fireworks, and great vegetarian food. These festivals have been going for years and allows one to make merit and save animals from being killed. Locals of Chinese descent have celebrated this Thai festival since the 19th Century.

NOVEMBER

Loy Gratong Festival (Kratong)

November 21, 2010

Kratong Festival

Kratongs, ready to float.

Loy Gratong Festival is an important day in Thailand. During this festival, the Thai Kingdom celebrates one of its most colorful traditions. Meaning “to float a tray”, Loy Gratong honors the Lord Buddha and gives thanks to the river goddess, Pra Mae Kongka, who Thais believe bring good luck.

Historically, this festival began from Sokhothai Kingdom, Thailand’s former capital city. There was a Thai woman called, “Nang Noppamas”. She was said to be the first person who created a kratong. At that time this festival was called the “Jongprieng Ceremorny”.

In modern days, Thais use this time to ask for forgiveness for polluting waterways and also for good luck. This is a time when elaborate and small floats called kratongs are floated down rivers or in lakes in villages. The kratongs are often made of banana leaves and trees, and are lit with candles, incense, or joss sticks, and sometimes carry a coin, lock of hair, or even fingernail clippings. The Thais also launch khoms, or glowing paper lanterns, into the air. It is a time of family, friends, fireworks, night sky lanterns, kratongs, kratong songs, good times, asking and giving forgiveness, and a recognized appreciation of the water that supports the land and people of Thailand.

At night, Thai people, volunteers and visitors will bring their gratong to the river bank, make a wish and float their gratong along the river and in lakes and ponds. They also hope to float away bad luck. The waters are full of light from the candles. It is very beautiful. Many local governments and wats and other people will create giant gratongs that they float in the river. Many towns, villages, and cities in Thailand also have beauty contests. In November, volunteers and Thai hosts will make or buy gratongs and set them afloat with a wish.

Song of Loy Gratong

Wan-pen deuan sip-song

full-moon day · month · twelve

naam gor nong tem ta-ling

water · also · overflows · full · bank

rao tang-lai chai ying sa-nuk gan jing wan loy gratong

we · all · many · men · women · together · really · enjoy the day · float · baskets

loy loy gra-tong / loy loy gra-tong

float · float · baskets · float · float · baskets

loy gra-tong gan leao kor chern nong-geao ok maa ram-wong

float · baskets · together · and then · ask · young · beloved · come out · dance

ram-wong wan loy gra-tong/ ram-wong wan loy gra-tong

dance · day · float · basket · dance · day · float · basket

boon ja song hai rao suk jai / boon ja song hai rao suk jai

making merit · will · make · us · happy · making merit · will · make · us · happy

To see this famous Thai song, follow this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u7zFq90OeY&feature=related

DECEMBER

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3, 2010

This day marks an opportunity to promote an understanding of the rights and issues people with disabilities face.

King’s Birthday and Father’s Day

December 5, 2010

The current King of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, was born on Monday, December 5, 1927 at Mount Auburn Hospital in the United States. He is loved and honored by both Thais and others living in Thailand, as well as in other countries. At the age of 19, he succeeded his brother who had died and became the King of Thailand. He finished attending school in Switzerland and the United States and returned to Thailand in 1951. He married Queen Sirikit and began his long and benevolent reign. He has helped the country of Thailand with agricultural and medical reform, and always shows respect to the poor and rich alike.

Rama IX has reigned through countless military coups and over 25 prime ministers. As the gap between rich and poor widens, many of the countries poor continue to have faith and respect for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In Thailand, Father’s Day is celebrated on the King’s Birthday, and Mother’s Day is celebrated on the Queen’s birthday. The Thais citizen respects the King as their father because he has done many good things for the country and he takes care of them like his children. The government has established this day as Father’s day for the country.

On Father’s Day and the King’s Birthday, volunteers go and pay respect to elder Thai hosts who have helped them in Thailand.

There is a big celebration around the country. The government decorates their office, the public places, and the roads very beautifully to celebrate his birthday. There are so many kinds of activities in this day. The main thing is to show the respect and honesty to the king and “Do good things for father” or “Tham Dee Puea Por”. People are not allowed to drink or sell any alcohol.

Most of the people go back to visit their family and show the respect to their own father. They ask their fathers to forgive all things they did wrong and also ask him for a blessing of good luck.

*King’s Birthday: Thailand Public Holiday – Substitute

December 6, 2010

*Constitution Day: Thailand Public Holiday

December 10, 2010

Constitution Day brought an end to years of absolute monarchy rule and helped to promote democracy. In 1932, a revolution led by Thai intellectuals, mostly those who had studied in western democratic countries, changed the old monarchy rule to one of a constitutional monarchy. King Rama VII, to avoid civil war, agreed and provided the country with its first constitution.

Although the monarchy lost some power, the King is still revered by the people of Thailand and by many more throughout the world.

Christmas Eve

December 24, 2010

Christmas Day

December 25, 2010

Many Thais celebrate Christmas as a time of enjoyment too. You will often see Christmas trees and presents being sold in stores. Even if the Thais who are not Christian many show respect for other religious holidays and about 0.5% of the Thai population is Christian. Thailand travelers, tourists, and volunteers should consider booking train, bus, and air tickets early if traveling during this time. It is also a good idea to make reservations ahead of time in Thai hotels, guest houses, and such. Volunteers and Thai hosts put up ornaments and even a Christmas tree and enjoy life by the water and celebrating with friends.

New Year’s Eve: Thailand Public Holiday

December 31, 2010

Pariwasakam

Lunar Calendar – Varies

In the first month of Lunar month, around December, there is a ceremony called “Pariwasakam”. The Buddhist monks have to be at the monk’s community and confess about their faults in front of the monks’ leader. The monks’ leader will chant to expurgate his faults. There are a lot of monks who come from different parts of the country to join this ceremony. This ceremony happens once a year. This is a chance for the people to meet the big group of the monks and to support them with foods and drinks to “tam bun,” or “make merit”. They will send merit they receive, from giving foods to the monks, to their relatives and friends, who have passed away, and can receive the merits in whatever new life they have been assigned.

General Information: Many of the above writing were written by Thais learning English with Laekplian Lokgatat. They are proud of their holidays and festivals and hope this gives travelers and volunteers more information about their Great country.