Wednesday, January 6, 2016


    If you're planning a trip to Thailand next year, one thing you might want to take into consideration when you choose your holiday dates,  are Thailand's public holidays.  Thailand has at least 16 public holidays a year, where everyone gets a day off, which is more than almost any other country in the world.  Thailand's public holidays are amazing, with fairs, festivals, concerts and more.  Most months have at least one public holiday, some have more.  Check out all of Thailand's public holidays and you can choose the best time to come to suite your particular interests.


New Year's Day, Thai's do actually celebrate the Western New Year, even though the Thai New Year isn't until April.  Most people go home to visit family, which means if you're outside Bangkok, the roads can be pretty packed.  In Bangkok, it's like heaven,  as all the traffic jams disappear and the normally polluted air is clean from the lack of cars.  Thai's who stay in Bangkok tend to go shopping,  as all the shopping malls and stores are open in the Winter months too, beer gardens sprout up at shopping malls all over Bangkok, so you can spend New Year's Day having a nice meal and then head out to an open-air beer garden for great beer and live music.


   Makha Bucha Day, An important day in the Buddhist calendar, Makha Bucha Day celebrates certain Buddhist teachings.  On Makha Bucha Day, many of the schools in Thailand will march to their local temple carrying offerings for the monks.  They will walk around the temple three times and then go inside to hear the monks speak about the Lord Buddha and his lessons.  If you're staying anywhere near a Thai school, it's interesting to watch all the kids marching to the temple, some in traditional Thai costumes.  In some areas, you'll get 7 or 8 schools going to the same temple so, watching the kids walking there is like watching a mini parade.


   Chakri Memorial Day, Chakri Memorial Day celebrates the beginning of the Chakri Dynasty (the royal dynasty of the present King of Thailand).  It's normally just a public holiday where some Thai's will go to the temple but most will hang out with family and friends to go shopping or to eat.  You'll also see a lot of enormous photos of the present King and Queen being put up all over Bangkok.

    Songkran is the big holiday in Thailand as it's Thai New Year.  It's a three day holiday (Monday thru Wednesday) although many people will take the week off.  People travel with their families and then the water festival starts.  All over Thailand, for three days, if you venture outside, you'll get wet, as kids and adults both splash, squirt or throw water at you.  You may get a bit of a squirt of a water gun, or a hose, or an entire bucket of water poured over your head and nobody is safe.  If you don't like getting wet, stay inside until after 6 p.m., when it will stop until the day after.  But, Thailand is so hot at this time of year that getting wet is really fun and and enjoyable from the hot, humid surroundings.  Chiang Mai is the best place to celebrate Songkran, but anywhere is a blast!


   Coronation Day
    Coronation Day celebrates the coronation of His Royal Highness King Bhumipol Adulyadej, the present King of Thailand.  Again, most Thai's spend the day shopping or eating out with family.  The slopping malls are packed on this day so, if you have urgent shopping, save it for another time if you can.  Again, it's also a time for even more enormous photos of the King to be displayed.  Some of these photos can be the size of a 12 story building.  You'll even see the King's picture decorating the outside of massive sky scrapers, so his face can be seen for miles!

   Royal Ploughing Day
   This is an interesting holiday as it blesses Thailand's farmers.  There is a fascinating ceremony at Sanam Luang, near the Grand Palace, in Bangkok, which involves several oxen, some government officials and different grains.  Depending on which grains the oxen eat first, this tells whether it will be a good harvest season or not in the coming year.  The ceremony is also shown on Thai T.V., so if you don't want to go down to the actual field (it gets quite crowded), you can still see it.  If you do go to the field, it's a wonderful place to take photos.

   May is chocked full of holidays as Vesak is also a public holiday.  Vesak celebrates Buddha's birthday, life and death, and on this day most Thia's will go to temple to give make merit (donate to the temple and to the monks).  Making merit means you will get a place in heaven, so public holidays like Vesak are important in Thailand.  Some temples will also have temple fairs with lots of traditional Thai food, games, dancing and even Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) matches.


   Asanha Bucha Day
   Another important day on the Buddhist calendar, this public holiday commemorates the Buddha's first teaching after he attained enlightenment.  Again, another day where Thai's go to give merit at the temple, and another day where you might find the local temple putting on a fair.

    Khao Phansa Day
    This day marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent.  Buddhist Lent, unlike Western Lent, is not a time where Buddhist deprive themselves of anything though, it's simply a time where Thai Buddhists monks retreat to their temples for 3 months and meditate and pray.  Ordinary Thai's will spend some time at temple, but many will also spend the day shopping or with friends.


   Queen's Birthday
    August is when the Queen of Thailand's birthday is celebrated.  It is also Mother's Day in Thailand (Mother's and Father's Day are the days of the King and Queen's birthdays, as they are seen as the "Mother and Father of Thailand").  On this day, every Thai who can, will spend the day with their families and usually take their mothers out for lunch or dinner.  Not a day to go to a nice restaurant if you don't have your mom with you,  as every restaurant in town is packed full of Thai families.  But, if your mom happens to be on holiday with you, then she'll be made to feel like a queen at any restaurant in Thailand.  Flowers are also incredibly cheap in Thailand.  You can actually purchase a bouquet of red roses for your mom for less than $3.00.


   Chulalongkorn Day
    This day commemorates the death of King Chulalongkorn or Rama V, one of Thailand's most beloved kings.  King Chulalongkorn was involved in many projects that helped Thailand and the Thai people, and is spoken of having helped to bring Thailand into the modern day world.  He also abolished slavery in Thailand, so he is one of Thailand's national heroes.  On Chulalongkorn Day, again, it's a great time for families and friends to shop and eat, although many Thai's will also buy large floral wreaths and lay them at the base of Rama V's statue at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok.


    December is one of the best months for public holidays, as there are three important days in this

  King's Birthday
   One of the most important holidays of the year is the birthday of the King of Thailand.  It falls on December 5th every year and is also the day that all Thai's celebrate Father's Day.  The King of Thailand is revered almost like a living god, so Thai's from all over the country go to temple to pray for the King.  There is also an enormous celebration for the king at Sanam Luang (near the Grand Palace).  A few hundred thousand Thai's attend the celebrations.  Here, you'll find food stalls, musicians from all over Thailand playing on a gigantic stage.  Then, when it goes dark, everyone in attendance will light a candle...an unbelievably beautiful sight, against the backdrop of Wat Phra Kaow and the Grand Palace, the most beautiful buildings in Thailand.  In other provinces in Thailand, you will also find parades and fireworks as every Thai loves to celebrate the King.  For fathers, it is also Father's Day and many Thai's will take their dads out for a meal, to play a round of golf, or go to a movie.

Constitution Day
    Constitution Day falls on the 10th of December and celebrates Thailand's first real constitution.  It's basically just a chance for a holiday from work after an exhausting year.  Thai's will either sleep, shop, eat or go and see a movie.

    New Year's Eve
    Even though it's a Western holiday, Thai's still really get into New Year's Eve.  There are several large concerts and shows all over Bangkok, all the night clubs throw big parties, and many of the restaurants will have special New Year's Eve dinners.  The shopping malls are crowded and everyone is in a wonderful mood.  Most Thai people are on holiday from December 31st to January 4th or 5th, so they're in a relaxed mood in preparation for their break.  Central World Plaza in Bangkok is the most popular place to see in the New Year.
   All of these public holidays in Thailand have one thing in common, Thai's love to have fun.  Even at temple, or celebrating the King's birthday.  Thai's are a fun-loving people and make the best out of every moment.  Public holidays are days to have a great time, so if you're lucky enough to be in Thailand for one of them, join in with the festivities and enjoy yourself.



   For the people of Punjab, the festival of Lohri holds a great significance, as it marks the harvesting season and the end of the winter season.  The main event is the making of a huge bonfire which is symbolic of the homage to the Sun God for bringing in warmth.  Celebrated on January 13th every year.  Lohri festivities are associated with the harvesting of the Rabi crops.  There is a special significance attached to the celebration of Lohri as this day the sun enters the rashi (zodiac) of Makara (Capricorn), this is considered auspicious as it signifies a fresh start.
   Lohri has special significance for the agriculturists because, it marks the beginning of a new financial year, on this day they settle the division of the products of the land between themselves and the tillers.  Lohri assumes greater significance, if there has been a happy evet in the family, such as the birth of a child or a marriage in the past year.  The family then plays host to relatives and friends and "making merry" is the order of the day.  Most people participate in dancing the bhangra ( a folk dance) to the accompaniment of the dholak.


    The festival of Lohri is linked to the atmospheric physical changes.  Lohri celebrations generate a lot of bonhomie as people sit around the bonfire, talking, laughing, exchanging pleasantries, praying for prosperity, even as they make offerings of til (gingelly), moongphali (peanuts) and chirwa (beaten rice) to the burning embers.  All these accounts and references point to the significance of saluting the Sun.  The Sun is a symbol of plenty it gives us all we need.  Fire sanctifies their endeavors  for a good life on the one hand and destroys evil spirits on the other.

The First Lohri

   On the first Lohri of the recently wedded bride or a new born child, people give offerings of dry fruits, revri (a kind of candy made of sugar and sesame seeds), roasted peanuts, Sesame Ladoo and other foods to the fire, as well as sharing them with their family and friends gathered around the fire.  They perform the "Bhangra" dance, in groups around the fire.  The dancing and singing continues well into the night.  The Bhangra dance has rhythmic movements of the feet, shoulder and body, with outstretched hands and a lot of clapping by women partners.  Food eaten, is generally of vegetarian and traditionally, no alcohol is supposed to be consumed.

The First Lohri of a Bride

   The first Lohri of a bride is considered very important.  It is celebrated with increased fervor and on a larger scale.  The family of the newly wedded wife and husband gather around the fire wearing their best, often new clothes, decorated with beautiful Punjabi embroidery in gold and silk threads with mirror work.  The newly married woman wears new bangles, applies henna or "mehndi" on their hands and puts a colorful bindi, a decorative spot on their foreheads.  The husband also wears new clothes and colorful turbans.  The new clothes and jewelery is given to her by her new in-laws.  She wears bangles almost up to her elbows.  The mother-in-law presents heavy garments and jewelry to he new bride.  The bride remains in her in-law's house where a grand feast is arranged and all the sons and daughters, with their spouses and children and all of their close friends and neighbors are invited.  In the early evening, when all have arrived, the new bride is dressed in her best salwar suit or phaphra and is made to sit, along with her husband, in a central place where the father and mother in law perform the presentation of clothes and jewelry.  The close relatives and friends also join in and present clothes or cash to the new bride.

The First Lohri for a Newborn

   The first Lohri of a new born is also a special occasion, in which all friends and family join to celebrate.  it is preformed in the later part of the evening.  Invitations can be sent for this function, depending on how the family wants to celebrate this occasion.  The event is observed at the home of the child's parents, in the presence of close relatives, friends and well wishers.  All the guests usually bring gifts for the baby and the new mother.  The child's grandparent's give gifts to the child's paternal relatives also.
   On the first Lohri of a new born baby, the mother is attired in heavy clothes and is wearing a lot of jewelery with mehndi on her hands and feet and sits with the baby in her lap.  The family does the presentations.  The mother and father-in-law usually gives a large quantity of presents in the form of clothes and cash and others in the immediate family do so also.  The maternal grandparents also send gifts of clothes, sweets, rayveri, peanuts, popcorn's and fruits.