Thailand Through The Year

25

Nov
2021

Thailand Through The Year

Posted By : admin/ 4 0

The Thai year revolves around the monsoon seasons – which dictate the year’s farming activities – and the religious calendar. Most religious festivals are Buddhist, and often observed on significant days of the lunar cycle, such as full moon. Festivals may also mark a seasonal change, such as the end of the rains, or a related agricultural event, such as the beginning of the planting season. The three seasons – wet, cool, and hot – are produced by the Southwest and Northeast monsoons. At the start of the wet season farmers plant rice seedlings. The rice-growing period is the traditional time for boys to enter the monkhood for a few weeks. In the cool season the drier weather ripens the crop, which is gathered before the hot season. Village life then slows down. During most weeks a festival is held somewhere in the country, especially in the cool season.

Hot Season

High temperatures combined with high humidity make this an uncomfortable time, April being especially hot. With the fields empty and rivers running low, the landscape appears faded and spent in the bright sunshine. Considering the heat, it is not surprising that Thailand’s traditional New Year, Songkran, is celebrated with water.

March

ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Fair (first week), Yala. Dovesinging contest that attracts bird lovers from as far away as Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Phra Phutthabat Fair (first or second week), Saraburi. Celebration of the annual pilgrim age to the Temple of the Holy Footprint.

Phra That Chaw Hae Fair (third week). A colorful procession of townspeople, all dressed in traditional Lanna attire, carry robes to cover the chedi. Poi Sang Long Festival (late Mar/early Apr), Mae Hong Son. Mass ordination of 15- and 16-year-old-boys, who dress up as princes in memory of the Buddha’s origins.

April

Chakri Day (Apr 6). Commemorates Rama I founding the Chakri dynasty. The Royal Pantheon – which displays statues of former kings – in Wat Phra Kaeo’s grounds, Bangkok, is open to the public on this day only.

Songkran (Apr 12–14). Traditional Thai New Year. Celebrated nationwide, but Chiang Mai has the reputation for the most fun.

Pattaya Festival (mid-Apr). Features a week of food and floral floats, beauty contests, and a huge firework display.

Phnom Rung Fair (Apr full moon). Daytime procession and a nighttime sound and light show at Prasat Hin Khao Phnom Rung.

May

Coronation Day (May 5). Ceremony to mark the crowning of King Bhumibol.

Royal Plowing Ceremony (early May), Bangkok. Observes the official start of the riceplanting season with an elaborate royal rite at Bangkok’s Sanam Luang.

Bun Bang Fai (Rocket) Festival (second week), Northeast Thailand. Home-made rockets are fired to ensure plentiful rains amid a carnival atmosphere. Celebrated exuberantly at Yasothon.

Visakha Bucha (May full moon). Most important date on the Buddhist calendar. Celebrates the birth, Enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. Sermons and candlelit processions at temples.

Rainy Season

The rural scene comes alive with the advent of the annual rains, which soften the soil ready for plowing. Once the rice has been planted, there is a lull in farming activity. This coincides with the annual three-month Buddhist Rains Retreat, the period when young men traditionally enter the monkhood for a brief period. This is something that young Thai men should do at least once in their lives. The rainy season is a good time to observe the ordination ceremonies held throughout Thailand, which blend highspirited festivities with deep religious feelings.

June

Phi Ta Khon Festival (Jun/Jul), Loei. An event unique to the Dan Sai district of Loei province, comprising masked players reenacting the legend of Prince Vessandon, the Buddha’s penultimate incarnation.

July

Asanha Bucha (Jul full moon). Second of the year’s three major Buddhist festivals. Commemorates the anniversary of the Lord Buddha’s first sermon to his first five disciples.

Khao Phansa (Jul full moon). Marks the start of the three-month Buddhist Rains Retreat (which is also referred to as Buddhist Lent), when monks remain in their temples to devote themselves to study and meditation. Young men are ordained for short periods.

Candle Festival (Jul full moon), Ubon Ratchathani. Unique festival held in the Northeast to mark the beginning of Khao Phansa. Features parades of carved candles (made by villagers from all over the province) displayed on floats and later presented to temples throughout the city. Some candles are several meters tall.

August

Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday (Aug 12). Buildings and streets are lavishly decorated in honor of Queen Sirikit’s birthday. The most elaborate decorations can be seen in Bangkok, especially along Ratchadamnoen Avenue and around the Grand Palace, where the streets and government offices are exuberantly adorned with colored lights.

September

Food and Fruits Fair (first week), Nakhon Pathom. Held at Thailand’s largest Buddhist temple, Phra Pathom Chedi. Cooking, folk theater, and floral floats.

Phichit Boat Races (Sep), Nan. This annual regatta takes place on the Nan river as part of the Nan Provincial Fair and features traditional lowslung boats.

Narathiwat Fair (last week). A good opportunity to experience Southern culture.

October

October Vegetarian Festival (early Oct). Trang and Phuket provinces. Self-mortification rituals following abstinence from meat.

Chulalongkorn Day (Oct 23), Bangkok. Commemorates the death of Rama V (King Chulalongkorn). Floral tributes are placed by the King’s equestrian statue by the Royal Plaza in Bangkok.

Receiving of the Lotus Festival (late Oct), Bang Phli. The end of the rains celebrated by pouring lotus buds over a locally revered Budda image.

Ok Phansa (Oct full moon). Nationwide celebration of the Lord Buddha’s reappearance on Earth after a season spent preaching in heaven. Marks the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat.

Krathin (begins Oct full moon). One-month period during which monks are presented with new robes.

Nan Boat Races (late Oct). Festive regatta.

Illuminated Boat Procession (Oct full moon), Nakhon Phanom. Boats with candles and offerings set afloat down the Mekong River. Entertainments provided in the town.

Cool Season

After the rains, the skies clear and the air cools to a comfortable warmth. The countryside looks its best, lush and green from the rains, with full rivers and waterfalls. In general this is the best time to visit Thailand, especially during the coolest months of December and January. Numerous festivals, to celebrate of the end of the rains, afford a period of relaxation before rural activity climaxes with the rice harvest in December and January.

November

Golden Mount Fair (first week), Bangkok. Thailand’s largest temple fair, held at the foot of the Golden Mount.

Elephant Roundup (third week), Surin. Annual spec tacle honoring the many and varied roles played by the elephant in Thailand’s development. More than 150 elephants take part in displays of forestry skills and a mock battle.

Khwae River Bridge Week (late Nov/early Dec), Kanchanaburi. Commemorates the construction of the bridge by POWs and slave labor.

Loy Krathong (Nov full moon). One of Thailand’s best-loved national festivals. Pays homage to the goddess of rivers and waterways, Mae Khongkha. In the evening, people gather at rivers, lakes, and ponds to float krathongs. Sukhothai is the best place to watch this festival.

December

Trooping of the Colors (Dec 3), Royal Plaza, Bangkok. A very impressive ceremony that offers a vivid picture of regal pageantry. It is presided over by the king and queen and features members of the elite Royal Guards, arrayed in bright dress uniform. The guardsmen swear allegiance to the king and march past members of the royal family

His Majesty the King’s Birthday (Dec 5). Government and private buildings throughout the country are elaborately decorated, and the area around the Grand Palace is illuminated. In the evening, crowds gather around Sanam Luang for celebrations. This occasion shows the deep respect Thais have for their king.

January

Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb). Not an official holiday, but this three-day festival is widely observed by the large number of Thais of Chinese origin

Umbrella Fair (mid-Jan), Bo Sang, Chiang Mai province. Celebrates traditional paper and wood umbrella making.

Don Chedi Memorial Fair (late Jan), Suphan Buri province. Marks the victory of King Naresuan of Ayutthaya over the Burmese. The highlight of the events is an elephant back duel.

February

Festival of Flowers (first week), Chiang Mai. Beautiful blooms of the north displayed on floral float parades.

Kite Flying Season (Feb–Apr), Sanam Luang, Bangkok. Colorful displays and kite flying contests.

Makha Bucha (Feb full moon). Third of the year’s major Buddhist festivals. Merit-making and candlelit processions at temples.

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