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Ryan: All About Thai, lesson 9 - Top Five Important Dates During the Thai Calendar Year. Hi everyone and welcome back to the All About Thai series! What are we going to be talking about in this lesson?
Rawinporn: The top 5 most important holidays in Thailand.
Ryan: Thailand has a lot of interesting celebrations throughout the year. In this lesson, we’re going to learn about five holidays that are near and dear to the hearts of Thai people. We’re going to go in reverse order though, which means we’ll start with #5.
Rawinporn: Coming in at #5 are the Buddhist Holy Days. Since around 95% of Thais are Buddhist, Buddhist holy days are considered public holidays.
Ryan: Buddhist holy days depend on the lunar calendar. For example, Wan Wisakha Bucha, which is a Buddhist observance commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha, is on the full moon during the sixth Thai lunar month.
Rawinporn: Or around May in the international calendar.
Ryan: On this day, many people visit temples for praying and merrymaking. What comes in at #4?
Rawinporn: #4 is actually a series of holidays known as Songkran Day.
Ryan: Songkran Day is the Thai traditional New Year, which takes place on April 13th through the 15th every year. Many people return home for family reunions during this period.
Rawinporn: Exactly. The 14th is also observed as Family Day. They gently pour water on the shoulders of elder family members.
Ryan: That sounds very different from the Songkran of nowadays.
Rawinporn: Today, young people throw water on everyone, including strangers to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand, reaching around 40 to 45 degrees Celsius on some days.
Ryan: I saw from the news that this practice becomes a huge water fight.
Rawinporn: Not only among Thais, but lots of foreigners also join the water fight. This is especially true in the most popular places for youngsters. For example, Khao-san Road, Si Lom Road in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Ryan: Okay. So now, we’re down to #3 on our list.
Rawinporn: Tah-dah, New Year’s Day!
Ryan: A lot of people clean their houses and offices in late December.
Rawinporn: That’s right! Thais believe that doing good, new things on New Year's Day will bring them good luck and prosperity for the New Year.
Ryan: Similar to Songkran Day, many people spend time with their families and people who work or live far from their families often go back to their hometowns for New Year’s.
Rawinporn: One of the most popular spots for the New Year countdown is the space in front of Central World building in Bangkok.
Ryan: Khun Rawinporn, do you go to the countdown?
Rawinporn: I normally stay home with my family and relatives. Popular countdown places like Central World, nightclubs, and Sathon Bridge are too crowded.
Ryan: And second on the list is… her majesty, the Queen’s Birthday, or in Thai, Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phranang Chao Phra Boromma Rachininat.
Rawinporn: Oh, you did a good job, Ryan, I’m impressed. Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Somdet Phranang Chao Phra Boromma Rachininat (August 12th). This day is also observed as National Mother's Day.
Ryan: Thais put up the national flag and Her Majesty, Queen Siriki's flag, to decorate their houses, shops, companies, and buildings. Many places organize illumination. The Royal Ceremony is held at Sanam Luang and people sing a song to celebrate the Queen.
Rawinporn: I did sing the song every year at home. My family and I turned on the TV and sang along with other people who join the ceremony at Sanam Luang.
Ryan: So, Rawinporn, do you still remember how to sing that song?
Rawinporn: ?
Ryan: Hey, that sounds great. You’ll have to teach me that song some tme.
Rawinporn: Okay.
Ryan: And here we go, the most important holiday in Thailand is…
Rawinporn: His Majesty, the King’s birthday or Wan Chaloem Phra Chonmaphansa Phrabat Somdet Phra Chao Yuhua in Thai.
Ryan: “December 5th.” This day commemorates the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1927, also observed as National Day and National Father's Day.
Rawinporn: Similar to Her Majesty, the Queen's birthday, Thais decoratethe Thai flag and His Majesty, King Bhumibol's flag in front of their houses, shops, companies, and buildings. There are illuminations in many places.
Ryan: The Royal Ceremony is held at Sanam Luang and people sing a song to celebrate the King! Fireworks at Sanam Luang on this day are very beautiful.
Rawinporn: Join us next time for more information on Thailand and Thai at All About Thai. See you then.
Ryan: sà-wàt-dii khráp.
Rawinporn: sà-wàt-dii khâ.