Buddha Days & Royal Birthdays
Do be aware that on most Buddha days and also on royal birthdays, the sale of alcohol is prohibited. Most bars and restaurants remain open but do not serve beers, wines, spirits, or cocktails. Drinking is still permitted in private properties though, so if you want to enjoy some drinks with your travel buddies, do be sure to stock up the day before.
Makha Bucha Day – February
Makha Bucha Day is referred to by some as Buddhist All Saints Day, and it is the third most celebrated of all Buddha days after Songkran and Loy Krathong. It is held on the day of the first full moon of the third lunar month, hence why it usually falls in February. Makha Bucha Day is recognised not only in Thailand, but in Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, and other predominantly Buddhist nations. The day commemorates the day when a chance gathering of 1,250 of Buddha’s followers occurred, and Buddha passed down to them all his teachings on community, peace, and love.
Asanha Bucha – July/August
Asanha Bucha Day is a public holiday in Thailand and it is the Buddha day that commemorates a day over 2500 years ago when Lord Buddha delivered his very first sermon after achieving nirvana (otherwise known as ‘the enlightenment’). This Buddha day is celebrated across all nations with a Theravada Buddhist population, including Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma). Based on the lunar cycle, it is held on the full moon of the eighth lunar, which normally puts the date in late July or early August.
Khao Phansa Day – July/August
Khao Phansa Day lies on the day immediately after Asanha Bucha, and marks the beginning of three months of retreat known as ‘Buddhist Lent’. Its full name is Wan Khao Phansa, and the Buddha day itself followed by the retreat period is a popular time for young Thai males to become ordained as monks. Locals mark the day by visiting temples to make donations and demonstrate their continued and renewed commitment to Buddhism.
Ok Phansa Day – October
Ok Phansa Day is the Buddha day that marks the end of the Khao Phansa retreat period. It is held on the day of the full moon of the eleventh lunar month, meaning it is almost always in October. The day is marked by festival-like processions featuring ceremonial cars and boats filled with offerings for Buddha.
In addition to the main Buddha days, Thais also take pride in celebrating the birth of their monarchs. Thailand is one of the most royalist countries in the world, and great reverence is placed on the royal family. In fact, there is an incredibly strict lese-majeste law, which forbids Thais and foreigners alike from insulting the royal family.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Birthday is also used to celebrate National Father’s Day and falls on December 5th. Her Majesty the Queen’s birthday is also used to celebrate National Mother’s Day falls on August 12th. On both of these days, a candle lighting ceremony takes place at the subdistrict municipality office in Chalok Baan Kao to offer respect and best wishes to the reigning monarchs.