Thailand has a lot to offer TEFL trainees during their teacher training program or even after they find work. There are local celebrations up and down the country, but here we list a few of the more important national holidays.
Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first Chinese lunar month, usually in February. Businesses will close for 3-4 days as families get together and worship at one of the many Chinese Buddhist temples.
Held at the end of February/beginning of March, depending on the moon. This commemorates the day when 1,250 of Buddha’s disciples gathered spontaneously to hear him preach. Buddhists visit temples to make merit, and in the evening the celebrations culminate in a candle-lit procession around the main temple building.
April 6th commemorates the founding of the Chakri Dynasty, of which the present King Bhumipol is the 9th king. Portraits of the King and Queen are prominently displayed and decked out with tributes of flowers.
This is the celebration of the old Thai New Year. Buddhists visit the temple for the ceremony of ‘Rod Nam Dam Nua’. They sprinkle water on the Buddha images, and on the hands of the monks and novices at the temple, as an offering to express confidence that the supply of water will be adequate to cover the dry season. Songkhran is a time when the Thai family will try to be together, and many people will travel back to their home village.
This holiday has now become a day for general pleasure, with merrymakers taking to the streets to throw water at one other. Take it all in good spirit, no one is exempt, not even the policemen. The cool water may even be a welcome relief as the festival coincides with the time when the sun is high overhead and the weather can be very hot.
This is an ancient Brahman ceremony, held under Royal patronage in Bangkok during May, which celebrates the beginning of the rice planting season.
This is the day in mid-July before the start of Buddhist Lent. Many young men who are about to become monks hold parties on this day.
Held at full moon of the 12th lunar month, the festival is believed to date back to the Sukhothai period. Krathongs, or lotus flowers made of natural materials, containing a candle, incense sticks, a coin or two and beautifully decorated with flowers are launched into the sea, or any convenient stretch of water, as a thanksgiving to the water spirits, and a cleansing of sins.
On December 5th people demonstrate their respect for the King with flags, displays and other tributes.
December 10th marks the day in 1932 when the monarchy became constitutional, at the very beginning of democracy in Thailand.