Cambodia has a large number of public holidays and events. During these holidays, schools, banks and government offices are closed. If a holiday is on a weekend-day, the holiday is often caught up on the Monday after.
International New Year’s Day
‘Prampal Markara’ (literally 7 January)
Victory Day over the Genocidal Regime. Celebrates the liberation of Phnom Penh in 1979 from the Khmer Rouge.
Chinese New Year
Widely celebrated in Cambodia, but the festival is not granted a public holiday.
In 2017, the first day of Chinese New Year is on Saturday 28 January.
Meak Bochea Day
This important Buddhist celebration marks a spontaneous gathering of 1,250 Buddhist monks to listen to Buddha’s teachings on the third lunar month’s full moon. During this holiday, the monks gather and pray at their temples. Cambodians visit the temples and participate in traditional religious ceremonies, such as pray and make offerings. The spiritual goal of this day is to purify your mind.
In 2017, this holiday is on Saturday 11 February.
International Women’s Rights Day
Bonn Chaul Chhnam (Bonn Pimai). Khmer New Year
The New Year’s Festival spans three days following the end of the harvest season. Khmers clean and decorate their houses with an altar for offerings to the Tevoda of the coming year. They also visit the temple with offerings. Then they play traditional games such as Angkunh, Chaol Chhoung, Leak Kansaeng, and tug of war. Since 1975, the New Year festival has been fixed to 16 April.
International Labour Day
King Norodom Sihamoni’s Birthday.
Visakh Bochea. Commemorates the birth of Buddha.
In 2017, this holiday is on Wednesday 10 May.
Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal, the “Royal Ploughing Ceremony”
The Royal Ploughing ceremony, or the opening of the Sacred Furrow, is the first of the traditional agrarian festivals. In times past, on an auspicious day determined by palace astrologists, the King traced the first furrows in the Capital’s sacred rice field, thus inaugurating the ploughing season.
Today, the ritual is performed by a man, King of Meakh, who leads the yoke and plough, followed by a woman, Queen Me Hour, who sows seeds. After thrice circling the rice field, the procession stops at a chapel where Brahmins invoke the protection of the Gods. The sacred cows are unharnessed and guided to seven silver trays containing rice, corn, beans, and other edibles and drinks. Based on their choice, predictions are made for the coming year. If they choose the cereals, harvest will be good. If they eat herbs, cattle diseases are to be feared. If they drink water, rain will be abundant and peace will reign; but if they drink alcohol, trouble will break out in the Kingdom.
In 2017, this holiday is on Sunday 14 May and on Monday 15 May
International Children’s Day
Her Majesty the Queen Norodom Monineath’s Birthday
In 2017, the holiday is observed on Monday 20 June
Constitution Day, which celebrates the signing of the constitution in 1993
Bonn P’chum Ben, “Ancestors’ Day” (offerings made to deceased relatives)
Spirits Commemoration Festival is held for the spirits of the dead. Bonn Dak Ben – the offering of food to the monks – lasts for 15 days. The 15th day of the ceremony – the full moon – is called Bonn Phchum Ben, the collection of the bens (offerings). During this celebration, if departed souls do not find their family making offerings at a wat, it is believed that the soul is cursed and will bother the descendent throughout the year.
In 2017, this festival’s main celebration is on Tuesday 19 September, Wednesday 20 September and Thursday 21 September.
Commemoration Day of King’s Father, HM Norodom Sihanouk, who died on 15 October 2012
This religious festival lasts for 29 days. The monks come out of their retreat. Town and country folks march in a procession to the wat, where the monks are waiting to change their old saffron robes for the new ones offered during the festival. The ceremony brings spiritual merit to both lay people and the monks.
Anniversary of the Paris Peace Accord. Commemorates the 1991 Paris conference on Cambodia
King Norodom Sihamoni’s Coronation Day (29 October 2004)
In 2016, this holiday is observed on Monday 30 October
The 9th of November 1953 is the date Cambodia achieved independence from France. The occasion is marked each year by a gala parade in front of the Royal Palace, which includes floats, marching bands and other spectacles highlighting the nation’s achievements.
Bonn Om Tuk
The three-day Water Festival celebrates the river’s changing flow by watching a festive cavalcade of competitive boat races. The finish line symbolizes a gate that retains the water. Once the line is cut, water flows down the Mekong, commencing the fishing season. Other traditional ceremonies are the midnight meals of pounded rice and full moon celebration, with lighted flotillas and fireworks in the evening. It is held at full moon at the end of October or in November.
In 2017, Bonn Om Touk is celebrated on 2, 3 and 4 November.
UN Human Rights Day
In 2016, this holiday is observed on Monday 11 December
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