Public holidays in Cambodia

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Cambodia has numerous public holidays, including memorial holidays and religious holidays of Buddhist origin. The Khmer traditional calendar, known as Chhankitek, is a lunisolar calendar although the word Chhankitek itself means lunar calendar.[1] While the calendar is based on the movement of the moon, calendar dates are also synchronized with the solar year to keep the seasons from drifting.[1]

Therefore, some public holidays are subject to change every year based on the lunar calendar.[2] The government has announced plans to reduce public holidays by at least seven days beginning in 2020.[3]

Public holidays[edit]

Name Date Remarks
New Year's Day January 1[2] Celebrates the beginning of the Gregorian New Year
Victory over Genocide Day January 7[2] Commemorates the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979[4]
International Women's Day March 8[2] Commemorates the history of women around the world
Cambodian New Year April 13–15[2] The traditional Cambodian solar New Year lasts three days and is considered to be the most important festival on the calendar.
Visak Bochea[2] Moveable, April or May Buddhist observance commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha
Labour Day May 1[2] Celebrates the economic and social achievements of workers
Royal Ploughing Ceremony Moveable, April or May Corresponds to the start of the planting season
King Norodom Sihamoni's Birthday May 14[2] Celebrates the birthday of King Norodom Sihamoni on May 14, 1953.
Queen Mother's Birthday June 18 Celebrates the birthday of Queen Mother Norodom Monineath on June 18, 1936.
Constitution Day September 24[2] Commemorates the signing of the Cambodian constitution by King Norodom Sihanouk
Pchum Ben 3 days[2]
Moveable, September or October
This national holiday was established for Buddhists to pay their respects to deceased relatives by cooking meals for monks and making offerings to the "ghost" of deceased relatives. It is also known as "Ancestor's Day".
Commemoration Day of the King's Father October 15 Commemorates King Norodom Sihanouk, the founding father of independent Cambodia, who died on this day in 2012.
Coronation Day of King Sihamoni October 29[2] Commemorates the 2004 coronation of King Norodom Sihamoni
Independence Day November 9[2] Celebrates Cambodia's independence from France in 1953
Water Festival 3 days[2]
Moveable, October or November
Commemorate ancient Cambodian navy soldiers under King Jayavarman VII during the Khmer Empire.

Other festivals[edit]

Name Date Remarks
Kite Flying Festival November or December Exactly one month after the Water Festival, the Festival of Kite Flying follows and brings together kite makers to demonstrate their talents in the full-moon night of Maksir, the first month of the Khmer lunar calendar, which usually falls in November or December. For Khmers, the festival means an occasion to pray for good weather, good harvest of crops, and a favorable situation free from destruction by floods or heavy rains. In Khmer folklore, the kite has always symbolized many things. A good number of locals hold the Festival of Kite Flying annually and wish for peace, freedom, and happiness for everyone.[5]
Silkworm Festival September The festival is held on a full-moon day in September every year. The traditions had been almost disappearing in the long civil war. And the traditions were revived by the hands of the experienced elderly women who slightly kept the memories. This is a festival to celebrate Cambodia's long history of silk textiles.[6]
Chinese New Year Festival January or February Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, has been broadly celebrated in Cambodia thanks to the country's respect for cultural diversity and close relationship between the peoples of the two countries.[7] It is often celebrated by Cambodian citizens regardless of ethnic background as it if commonly believed that the festival brings luck. Lion dance or "Mong Say" as referred by the locals is often seen throughout the country and many businesses close down as family go home to spend time with their families.
Hei Neak Ta January or February Known as the Hei Neak Ta, or Spirit Parade, the festival is held each year to mark the official end of the Chinese New Year celebrations in a uniquely Khmer manner. While the holiday is known as the Lantern festival in other parts of Asia, and is celebrated solely on the 15th day of the lunar calendar, festivities in Cambodia can go on for three to four days and often feature elaborate parades with a wide range of spirit mediums.
Mid Autumn Festival September or October More commonly called "Full Moon Festival" by locals (as Cambodia does not have an Autumn season). Cambodians organize "the traditional festival of prostrating the moon".[8] In that early morning, people start preparing sacrifices to worship the moon, including fresh flowers, cassava soup, flat rice, and sugar cane juice. At night, people put the sacrifices into a tray, place on a big mat, and sit at ease waiting for the moon. When the moon rises up over the top of a branch, everyone whole-heartedly worships the moon, implores blessings.

After the ritual of worshipping the moon, the old take flat rice to put into the mouth of children until they are entirely full in order to spray for perfection, and good things. Although this is a Chinese festival, many Cambodians celebrate this festival as it is believed that exchanging moon cake during this time is thought to bring luck and prosperity. Among Cambodians, this holiday is associated with Khmer beliefs of "Praying to the Moon" and the Buddhist legend of the rabbit.

Qingming Festival April The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day (or "Chheng Meng among the Khmer locals), is a Chinese festival when people bring food and drinks to the graves of their ancestors. In Cambodia, this festival is largely associated with Pchum Ben Festival and is mainly a chance for people to pray for happiness, success and promotion.[9]
Siem Reap Puppet Parade February A festival celebrated in Siem Reap that commemorates the artistic ability of the locals in the area. It shows a large display of giant puppets as well as showcasing traditional shadow puppet plays. It first began in 2007 and has since then gained widespread popularity.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Khmer Calendar". www.cam-cc.org.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "List Of Public Holidays in 2021". International Business Chamber Cambodia. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  3. ^ "PM: Holidays may be cut as 'reforms' near". The Phnom Penh Post. March 28, 2019.
  4. ^ "When Peace Is Controversial: Cambodia Celebrates "Victory over Genocide Day"". The Organization for World Peace. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Silkworm Festival – IKTT (Institute for Khmer Traditional Textiles), from SiemReap Cambodia". iktt.esprit-libre.org.
  7. ^ "Chinese New Year 2nd largest celebration in Cambodia – Headlines, features, photo and videos from ecns.cn|china|news|chinanews|ecns|cns". www.ecns.cn.
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Qingming Festival – The Cambodia Herald".
  10. ^ Miles, Craig. "Khmer focus in giant puppet parade | Phnom Penh Post". www.phnompenhpost.com.

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