Thailand is country with many a public holiday and full of religious ceremonies.
You have got holidays like Chakri Memorial Day, the Chinese New Year, the vegetarian festival,
and then harvest holidays like Songkran, and even a day to honor the father of Bhumibol, Mahidol
The more, the merrier
"Thailand has what they call
'official holidays' and 'unofficial holidays.' An official holiday
would be something like the King's birthday or Labour Day. An
unofficial holiday would be a drunk guy waking up with a hangover one
morning and just not showing up for work. When he returns to the
workplace the day after and gets just a slap on the wrist, he's
effectively earned himself an unofficial holiday. What a system!"
Thais are known as loyal workhands, but work itself does not
motivate most of them. It's a means to and end, not an end in
itself. Since enjoyment plays such a large role in the Thai
lifestyle, a Thai must enjoy the job he does, even if he isn't very good
at it. In the West, more often than not, a worker despises his
job. It always helps to like what you're doing, but no supervisor
in the West is going to care if you're bored out of your skull with your
work as long as you're producing profits for their bottom line.
Officially, no business in Thailand is going to endorse 'unofficial
holidays.' If they were endorsed, they'd become official
holidays, wouldn't they? Thailand is a country where appointment
times are more like suggestions. If you arrange to meet a Thai on
Tuesday at 8 PM, the meeting could actually take place Wednesday at
10:30 PM or not at all -- and no one is going to call you up to
apologize for the inconvenience. When plans are made for the future,
that really means the plans may happen. If you're told by
a That that things might happen, interpret that as they won't happen.
Drop something off to get fixed, the burden is on you to reappear to
check if the repairs have been made. Leaving your phone number
behind under the expectation you'll be called when the equipment is
fixed is as meaningless a formality as asking someone, "How are you?" in
Happy official (and, on the right, unofficial) holidays to all
Below is a list of Thailand's public holidays and an explanation for each. Fixed dates are not possible for all.
The Thais uses a Buddhist lunar calendar, and some holidays can vary significantly by date.
Thailand also features ceremonies, plenty of them.
These are possible holidays*. Possible holidays
are not that important or
everyone would get a day off and frolic on the beach.
How well you sell the importance of these dates to your
superiors will depend if these possible holidays became full
fledged holidays for you. Good luck!
Holiday Or Possible
What It Is (And How To Scheme To Turn A Possible
Holiday* Into Your Holiday)
New Year's Day
Each Gregorian calendar year has 12 months:
January, February, March, April, May, June, July,
August, September, October, November, and December.
When 31 December is reached, the next day starts
with 1 January but with the year value incremented
by one. For example, today is 31 December
1966. Tomorrow would be 1 Jan but you would
add 1 to the year (1966 + 1 = 1967).
As everyone tirelessly says: children are
our future. Let's honor them. If you
expect your boss to let you miss work for this one,
then you'd better have everyone convinced you're a
Catholic who likes big, big families and you want to
spend the day at home honoring your dozen children.
Another creative angle if you're under 50:
"Hi, boss. My parents want to honor me on
Children's Day. I'm a kid, too, you know."
Nature must also be honored, say the
governments, who then go ahead and continue with
deforestation. Hey, it's a good cause.
Tell the boss you've joined a Greenpeace
demonstration for good measure. He won't risk
firing you. It'll make him appear to be
Children are the future. They get their
own day. Children can't be born without
parents. Mothers and fathers each get their
own day. Children can't be educated
without teachers, so in 1957, the Thais finally
conceded that teachers, who may have less education
than an intelligent household pet, should get their
own day. A lot of schools close on this
holiday -- the
teachers get honored by not having to teach.
For you to get a holiday here, too, say that you, as
a parent, are also your children's teacher and you
wish to be honored. If you have no kids, play
it this way: life is one big lesson, in which
everyone learns and teaches. Everyone should
be honored for their inner teacher. If
your boss doesn't agree, just skip work. No
way he'll fire you. He'll look like he hates
In 1593, a Thai elephant fought a Burmese
elephant. No one knows or cares who won, but
hell, it's a great excuse for a holiday!
Point out how the elephant population in Thailand
has sunk from 100,000 a hundred years ago to 2,257
in 1998. 70% of domesticated elephants are
unemployed! That's worse than the unemployment
rate in Bangladesh.
Something has got to be done about this problem.
Tell your boss you want to think about the solution
on this day.
Royal Thai Armed Forces Day*
Those who can't get excited about elephants can
insist they're proud of their nation's military.
Armed forces personnel are encouraged to take it
easy and go on an elephant ride to help get momentum
behind the other festivity held on this date.
Any foreign power planning to invade Thailand would
schedule the invasion for this day.
National Agriculture Day*
Most of Thailand's labor force works in
agriculture. Give them a holiday for Buddha's
Agriculture workers celebrate by
continuing to do exactly what they do every other
day of the year. So will you.
Since 1995, Thailand has
honored inventors because Thailand's very own
king obtained his own patent on a paddle wheel
aerator a few years before. On 3 Feburary,
Copycat Day is unofficially celebrated. On
Copycat Day, held the following day, big
multinational corporations reverse engineer all the
patents -- or just outright screw over the patent
holder knowing they can outspend the puny inventor
in court. If you can invent a way to get
yourself off work for this one, consider yourself a
bona fide inventor.
Veteran remembrance ceremonies are held at
Victory Monument. If you're an inventor
whose invention was ripped off by a multinational
corporation, you can call yourself a veteran of
corporate exploitation and possibly get the day off
Full moon in the third Thai
lunar month , usually sometime within the first 2-3
weeks of February
Magha Bucha Day
The Thais have a love affair with Buddha, and on
this day, they can publicly shout to the hills,
"Hey, Buddha. We love ya!" On this day,
one is not supposed to commit any kind of sins and
to purify the mind. Since everyone will continue
to sin and pollute their minds, Magha Bucha ends up
being a great excuse to get off work or school.
Chinese New Year*
Traditionally celebrated for fifteen gluttonous
days in China, in Thailand the
Chinese New Year gets
three. There's so much symbolism present in the food
and the gifts, no one bothers remembering what any
of it means anymore. Fish is a homophone for
"surpluses" and the number 8 for "wealth." But
get real. If someone were offered caviar or
lobster and $190 as a gift, they'd leave the fish &
chips and $8 in coins on the floor. If
you can convince your boss you're one-eighth
Chinese, you might finagle one-eighth of the New Year
duration as days off.
Once upon a time, the restaurant, chocolate,
flower, and greeting card industry met to brainstorm
a holiday to enrich all their industries.
One half of a couple must wine and dine by
purchasing a meal, chocolates, flowers, and a card
for the other to profess his love. If he
doesn't do this, regardless of how he treats his
lover the other 364 days of the year, she'll
consider him a loser. A brilliant idea.
Since 1985, those individuals classified as
"National Artists" by the Office of the National
Culture Commission are honored. Rewards are less
than USD 400 in salary and less than USD 500 in
funeral expenses. No National Artist is going to be
able to quit his day job, and you haven't a bat's
chance in hell of getting a day-long vacation from
King Nangklao Memorial Day*
Better known as King Rama III or Jessadabodindra,
this long dead monarch was able to secure his own
memorial day in 1998. Nice work! And
sorry, you'll be working on this day, too, unless
you can possibly prove you've got some of Rama III's
Civil Service Day*
In most nations, the
civil service is considered
a joke. Any coincidence this day falls on the
same date as April Fools Day? Since
1979, the Thais have wishes to commemorate their
first Civil Service Act. Try telling the boss
you used to work for the postal service, and I'd say
you have a 5% chance of getting a holiday.
Thai Heritage Conservation
The Thais don't see any better way of conserving
their heritage than to honor another royal family
members' birthday. This date just happens to
fall on the birthday of
Maybe if you're born within a few days of April 2,
you could parlay that into a day off.
Chakri Memorial Day
assumed the throne in 1782 and have held it ever
since. Those who hold power create their own
celebrations to honor themselves.
Call this the Thai new year in celebration of
the new harvest. People drive around in
cars and dump cold water, sometimes with ice added,
on passersby. Any other time of the year, the
revelers would be called hooligans and beaten by
those they soiled.
Consumer Protection Day*
Observed since 1980,
Consumer Protection Day is
literally just observed, like you might observe a
tiny spot of black paint on a barn door. No
one really pays much attention to it, least of all
the merchants who sell consumers the stuff for which
guarantees and refunds are about as obvious as that
tiny spot on the barn door.
Workers unite! Everyone usually gets
off on this day. No need to come up with an
excuse for your boss.
Sometime in May
Royal Plowing Ceremony Day
Also known as Farmer's Day. A
royal ceremony blesses the country's farmers.
Assuming you really aren't a farmer, if you want off
work, insist your spouse, if Thai, comes from an
ancient line of farm hands or that you've just
started farming, with a subsistence-level garden
being grown in your back yard.
All countries need a holiday in May. May
Day or Mother's Day anyone? Thailand astutely knew
this long ago and so the
King's coronation was
performed in May.
Buddha's birthday, with Buddhist flag
hoisting and hymn singing. Those on the verge
of enlightenment try to pass the final stretch on
Buddha's birthday as an additional homage to the
Sunthorn Phu Day*
Thailand's best known poet deserves a day,
doesn't he? Do you write poetry? Is
Sunthorn Phu a hero of yours? Have you even
heard of him before? It's doubtful you're
getting a day off of work.
Sometime in May or June
Whenever Buddha does something (take his first
piss, attempt his first shave, pick up his first
lady), as long as there's a record of the date he
did it, there's a holiday. Atthami Puja
commemorates Buddha's cremation.
May or June
Dragon Boat Festival*
In Chinese majority societies it's days off for
all! This festival commemorates the life and
times of the Chinese scholar Qu Yuan. It's the
usual story: honest and erudite guy pisses off
peers in the government, and they set him up for a
fall. Qu Yuan wants the last laugh. He
jumps into the Milo River with a stone to drown
himself. People tried to rescue him in a
'dragon boat'. They failed.
Instead, they created a festival to honor him while
they gorge on rice dumplings.
This day honors Buddha's first speech to the
masses. If you haven't convinced everyone you
idolize the Buddha (a behavior the antithesis of
true Buddhist philosophy, by the way) good luck
trying to convince your bosses to let you skip out
for this one.
Mid Year Bank Holiday
This is a polite way of saying, "Half the year
has passed, and we'd sure like an excuse for a
holiday." If the banks didn't close,
what would be the excuse for a holiday?
So the banks shut down, people say the economy is
frozen for that day, and they stay home from work,
too. National Scouts Day happens to fall on
the same day. Luckily, scouts don't rely on
More properly called a Rains Retreat.
Monks get serious. No traipsing around
the country, province to province, bald and begging.
They stay in one temple and meditate. Layman
Buddhists (unsuccessfully try to) give up meat,
alcohol, smoking, hard drugs, and S & M.
National Thai Language Day*
The English-speaking countries don't have a day
commemorating the English language. Don't hold
anything against the Thais for promoting a day in
which everyone, Thai and foreigner alike,
use Thai. Speaking or writing in any
language but Thai may incur the death penalty.
The living get holidays. So do trees
and the environment. Why discriminate
against ghosts? They've got feelings, too.
On the fifteenth night of the seventh lunar month,
these ghosts get their own festival. Ghosts
quite the appetite.
Australia is liberal, offering the British
monarch multiple birthdays throughout the year.
Thailand lets its key monarch, the King, have one
birthday per year with an accompanying holiday.
And then, so as not to discriminate, they threw
wife one, too.
National Science Day*
King Mongkut -- of
The King And I
-- predicted and observed a total solar eclipse, and
now Thais everywhere herald this as
Day when it really should be called National
Precognition Day. If you're bald like Yul
Brynner was and can sing a few of the songs from the
musical, you'll probably get the day off.
Three thousand years ago the Chinese worshipped
the moon. Now there's a festival dedicated to
it. Festival goers eat as many moon
cakes as possible.
Moon cakes are a dense
pastry that would probably taste delicious if apple
or cherry pie filling were stuffed within instead of
lotus seed, jujube, taro, or durian.
McDonald's might then jump on the moon cake
bandwagon. Even then, maybe Mickey Dees would
not. Moon cakes are labor-intensive to
make and cost USD 2.50-12.50 per cake, more than a
McDonald's cashier earns per hour.
Children have their own day, so youth should,
too. But aren't children already youth?
Yeah, but not all youth are children. I
mean, if I'm 18 years old, I'm a youth, but I am not
a child. Where's my day? Here it is,
commemorating the birth dates of
and the King's older brother
Ananda Mahidol, who was
mysteriously shot in the head in 1946 before being
officially crowned as King. Mahidol died just
short of age 21, so legalistically, I suppose you
could argue that qualify as a "youth" until at least
this age. Are you under age 21? No?
Kiss off you chances of getting a day off.
The King's brother, wife, and kid(s) get a
holiday. Why not one for
dear old pop,
considered by the Thais the father of Thai medicine.
Too bad medicine wasn't up to snuff back in the
1920's. A liver abscess killed the guy at age
For those obsessed with the moon, here's another
festival where people act like werewolves and
salivate at the moon.
Chinese-origin but a hit in Southeast Asia,
particularly Phuket where 35% of the population is
Chinese. Meat and dairy products are shunned.
If you wish to cut in front of Thais in bank and bus
lines, smear yourself with meat and dairy products,
and the Thais will be repelled. They probably
would shun you even if they weren't observing the
festival. True practitioners dress in white
and avoid the meat-dairy consumption for 9 days.
The law enforcement officials who collect bribes
and . . . allocate justice, of course . . . deserve
their own day. Watch them drinking Singha
bottles by the case. Thieves and other sundry
criminals celebrate this holiday in earnest, too.
You didn't think the King's mother would be left
out of a holiday? The Thais are
brilliantly efficient at setting up a
holiday/remembrance day in honor of one person or
achievement, but giving it a grand title that opens
up the observance to many more. In this case,
the King's mom happened to be a nursing student at
the Siriraj School for Midwifery and Nursing, so her
birthday becomes a holiday honoring all nurses.
If you're not a nurse (or haven't slept with one), a
day off for you is unlikely.
When the Thais like someone or something, they
give it a holiday. If more Thais could afford
tasty Swiss chocolates to realize how creamy and
smooth they are, Swiss chocolates would be awarded a
national holiday. The Thais admired their
Chulalongkorn for military and political
reforms, the aboliton of slavery, and having only a
small role in the embellished and farcical The
King And I.
Since 1991, Thais can contemplate the industry's
60-70% contribution to Thailand's industrial
emissions, agricultural burning, Central region
water pollution, and high levels of industrial and
He really was born on December 5, too, in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. Contrary to popular
myth, he doesn't also hold American citizenship.
Foreign monarchs born on US soil don't get the blue
book. Sorry! The King is really just a
No one is 100% certain that this holiday
commemorates the adoption of Thailand's first
constitution in 1932 or if it's more of a generic
holiday meant to commemorate Thailand's love of
getting a new constitution every few years.
The US celebrates Presidents Day in February to
honor the office of the Presidency which changes
hands every four or eight years. Thailand felt
that since its constitutions weren't even that
permanent, a holiday was in order to celebrate the
abstract idea of constitutions in general.
National Sports Day*
In 1967, King Ram IX received a gold medal in
sailing at the fourth Southeast Asian Peninsular
Games consisting of Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia,
Burma, South Vietnam, and Laos. Now that date
is a reminder to Thais
to get off their asses and
work off some of that body fat. Laos
encourages anyone of Laos ethnicity to ignore this
day. Laos won zero medals at those same 1967 games.
Jesus never made it out to Southeast Asia as far
as historians can tell. Christian missionaries
are here anyway spreading the news that Jesus guy
died for everyone's sins, including the Buddhists.
The Buddhists must not be buying the claptrap.
They're still sending their sins away on a raft the
month before on Loy Krathong Day. NOTE:
Santa Claus requires a transit airspace visa to drop
gifts in this part of the world.
Taksin wasn't part of the Chakri dynasty, but he
did liberate Thailand from Burmese occupation, and
that surely deserves some sort of a day. On
this day, Taksin is commemorated and people tell
New Year's Eve
The Gregorian calendar's last day is December
31. The following day, the year advances by
one. The evening before the New Year,
people get drunk, possibly high, and attend mega
expensive dinner buffets. In the morning, no
one remembers what they did. In Bangkok, if
the past is any indication of the future, expect
possible bombings of government buildings or
is a country with multiple religious ceremonies and many a public holiday. They have the
usual Christmas and New Year's Eve, but also indigenous holidays like Chakri Memorial Day
and Songkran. From China comes the Chinese New Year and the vegetarian festival.
Mahidol Day honors the king's papa as the Father of Thai Medicine.