Holiday and festivals in Cambodia

Festival is always one of the most important parts of both cultural and emotional life to the people of every country.
When you start your adventure to a new culture of a new country, learn about the festivals of the country is one of the most proficient ways.
In this article, we Travel Authentic Asia would like to introduce you to the important national and regional festivals of Cambodia

Victory Day – 7th January
To commemorate the fall of Pol Pot’s regime on 7th January 1979, this national celebration is held annually on the 7th of January.

Lunar New Year – around January and February
Although it is not a public holiday in Cambodia, Lunar New Year Festival is celebrated widely in Cambodia's Chinese and Vietnamese communities. During the holiday, many stores, shops, and businesses are closed.
Women's Day – 8th March
This international holiday is celebrated to cherish and show love to the women in the country

Bonn Chaul Chhnam – Khmer New Year – three days in Mid-April (14th-16th April)
Bonn Chaul Chhnam is a Khmer national festival, somehow is equivalent to Songkran of Thailand and Phimai of Laos. Marking the end of the harvest season, this annual festival lasts for three days, when Cambodians clean and decorate their houses, visit the temples and make offerings, and splash water at each other as a way to give blessings. The cities’ streets are colorfully decorated and more bright shine at night, while many special cultural, entertaining, and sporting events to celebrate the vacation are organized.

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Bonn Visak Bochea – held in Mid-May
This nationwide festival is to commemorate the day of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death. Bonn Visak Bochea is held during the sixth full moon’s circle of the year. Chanting, sermons, and a candlelit procession to the wat are the most common activities taking place during this celebration.

Bonn Chrat Preah Nongkol - Royal Ploughing Ceremony – At the end of May, lasts one day
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony dates back to the times when the reigning king traced the first furrows in the capital's sacred rice field, thus inaugurating the ploughing season. Today, the ritual is performed at the start of the rainy season in late May each year, with representatives of the king taking the role of King Meakh, who leads the yoke and plough, and Queen Mehour, who sows the seeds. After circling the field three times, the procession stops at a shrine where Brahmins invoke the protection of the gods. Sacred cows are then brought to eat from seven silver trays containing such things as rice, corn, beans, sesame seeds, grass, water, and wine, and predictions are made for the coming year based upon what they select. The harvest will be good if they choose the cereals, the rain will be abundant if they drink water, but the trouble is feared if they eat herbs or drink alcohol.
Bonn Chol Vassa - Start of Buddhist Lent - Mid July, two days
Held to coincide with the eighth full moon of the lunar calendar, this festival marks the beginning of the three-month Buddhist Lent, when Buddhist monks fast and meditate. Young men consider this festival auspicious for entering the monkhood.


Constitution Day - 24 September
This national holiday celebrates the formal adoption of the Constitution of Cambodia in 1993.
Mid-Autumn Festival - September-October
Celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese communities throughout the country during the middle of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, the Mid Autumn Festival is a time for moon cakes and lanterns.

Bonn Dak Ben and Bonn Pchum Ben - Spirit Offering Festival - September-October, 15 days
Running for 15 days, this festival is dedicated to blessing the spirits of the dead, and is one of the most culturally significant events in Cambodia. Each household visits its local wat and offers food to the monks for their assistance in blessing the souls of late ancestors, relatives, and friends. Pagodas are crowded with people taking their turn to make offerings, with many staying behind to listen to Buddhist sermons.
Bonn Kathen - End of Buddhist Lent - October-November, one month
Starting immediately after the last day of lent and lasting until the next full moon, this religious festival marks the emergence of monks from the retreat. People all over the country form reverent slow processions to their local temple to offer them robes and other items, thereby bringing spiritual merit to all participants.

Paris Peace Agreement - 23 October
This national holiday celebrates the signing of the Paris Peace Agreement of 1991.

Independence Day - 9 November
Each year 9 November is a national holiday, held to celebrate the independence of Cambodia from France in 1953. A gala parade is held in front of the Royal Palace, which includes floats, marching bands, and other entertaining festive activities.

Bonn Om Touk - Water Festival - Mid November, three days
The Tonle Sap River is the only waterway in the world that flows in opposite directions at different times of the year. For most of the year, the river flows out from the lake into the Mekong. However, during the rainy season from about June to October the Mekong rises, causing the Tonle Sap River to reverse its direction and the lake to swell to more than twice its regular size. At the end of the rainy season, when the water level of the Mekong drops again, the current reverts and flows back into the Mekong. This unique natural phenomenon is celebrated with three days of boat races, fairs, festivals, shows, parades, fireworks, music, and dancing.

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