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Thailand observes various days as public holidays, many of the festivals and events are traditional Buddhist or folk festivals and are determined by the lunar calendar, so dates change from year to year.
Songkran Festival Nationwide
This is the celebration of the traditional Thai New Year and usually falls around the April 13-17th. The Thai New Year is also observed in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar and in Yunnan, China. Until 1888 the Thai New Year was the commencement of the year in the Kingdom of Thailand.
In a show of respect, Thais clean their homes, sprinkle water on the Buddha images and visit the temple for the ceremony of Rod Nam Dam Nua. This is the time for family reunions, many people travel back to their home community.
This celebration is marked with spiritual ceremonies as well as public festivities. This is predominantly popular in the tourist areas of Khao San Road in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Loy Krathong and Candle Festival
The festival of Loy Krathong is a time to offers gratitude to the Goddess of Water, Mae Nam. According to the tradition, Nang Nopamas, a royal consort of the Sukothai King Loethai, made the first kratong as a present to Mae Nam. Loy Krathong symbolizes a close bond between Thai society and water.
The festival takes place on the full moon night in the 12th lunar month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, when the water level is elevated and the temperature is cooler. Usually falls in November.
People will go down to their neighboring river or Klong (canal) to float their Krathongs, a lotus-shaped vessel traditionally made from banana leaves and carrying offerings of flowers, candles, burning incense, and small money.
By the end of the evening, there are a large number of shining lights bobbing up and down on the water. In addition, fireworks and beauty competitions take place during the celebration.
The Vegetarian Festival started about 150 years ago in the Kathu district, where the majority of the Chinese tin mine workers was settled in Phuket. They formed such a large portion of the community that a group of Chinese opera performers were hired to entertain them and their families. During the Chinese ninth lunar month, Phuket was hit with an epidemic of a fatal disease and the loss of many lives. The Chinese performers were also falling ill.Eventually, they realized they had forgotten to pay homage to the Nine Emperor Gods (Kiu Ong Iah) in the first nine days of the month. Thus, one of the performers was sent to China to invite the Kiu Ong Iah to Phuket. The next year the Chinese followed the tradition of refraining from eating meat, drinking alcoholic drinks, engaging in sex, quarreling, telling lies or killing. The epidemic ceased, and, every year since, the people of Phuket have continued to celebrate the festival.
Visitors are perhaps most impressed with the spectacle of people, ostensibly possessing by gods, piercing their tongues, cheeks, and other parts of the anatomy with sharp implements. Adepts apparently feel no pain, and show little no sign of real injury.