A country’s holidays, special occasions, and festivals are the door opening to its culture. Learning those, we will also learn the value that the country holds, its history, their belief, and its pride.
Here we are to celebrate the 2023 CLMV countries’ holidays. You can click on the specific month that you want to check!
4 January – [MYANMAR] Independence Day
It is the date Myanmar declared of independence from British rule. On the 4th of January 1948 at 4.20 am, the nation became an independent republic named the Union of Burma. The Independence Day in Myanmar is celebrated through festivals and traditional activities, such as parades and sporting events.
Myanmar Independence Day
Image credit: mizzima.com
7 January – [CAMBODIA] Victory Against Genocide Day
7 January, 1979 marked the end of the Khmer Rouge’s bloody regime. The day since celebrating every year is to be a memorial of the bitter era and those who sacrificed for peace and the future of Cambodia and the Khmer people.
20 January – [LAOS] Armed Forces Day
The Anniversary of the Lao army was observed annually by the Lao people’s armed forces to celebrate the creation of the independent Lao army on the 20th of January 1949.
The Beginning of The Lunar Calendar – [VIETNAM] Tet Holiday (20 – 26 January in 2023)
During Tet Holiday (Lunar New Year), Vietnamese people often go to a new year’s market, prepare for a feast, and gather to have a family meal together. They also visit relatives’ houses, give out envelopes to children as well as play card games.
The Full Moon Day of the 3rd Lunar Month – [CAMBODIA, LAOS] Magha Puja Day (5 February in 2023)
Magha Puja (Spelled Meak Bochea for Khmer) is also an important Buddhist festival in Cambodia and Lao. It is on the full moon day of the 3rd lunar month, which is the 5th of February in 2023. However, in 2023, Thailand will celebrate Magha Puja on the full moon day of the 4th month instead, which makes it falls to the 6th of March.
Meak Bochea in Phnom Penh
Image credit: phnompenhpost.com
5 February – [VIETNAM] Lantern Festival
On the full moon night, multi-coloured lanterns are lit. There are also performances with music and street food stalls. The locals may play board games outside their homes.
The full moon is also a time to honour deceased relatives and ancestors. Local families will also visit shrines and offer of flowers, food, and candles as well as fake money bills in exchange for prosperity.
12 February – [MYANMAR] Union Day
Union Day of Myanmar becomes an official holiday to commemorate the signing of the Panglong Agreement which united Burma in 1947.
2 March – [MYANMAR] Peasants’ Day
Peasants’ Day is a celebration held annually on the 2nd of March to appreciate the hard work and dedication of the peasants and farmers and their contribution to the economic development of the country.
The Full Moon Day of the 12th Month of Burmese Calendar – Full Moon Day of Tabaung (6 March in 2023)
The day of the Tabaung Full Moon is the day of Buddha’s reign. Tabaung is the 12th month in Burmese calendar, the last month of the year. In 2023, the day falls on the 6th of March. This is a time when Buddhists will go to a temple and make merit. It is also popular to hold a festival. Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is the biggest one of the year in all of Myanmar.
Full Moon Day of Tabaung
Image credit: myanmore.com
8 March – [CAMBODIA, LAOS] International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is held every March 8 to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is also a day used to highlight ongoing gender inequality and to call for further change. It is an official holiday in both Cambodia and Laos.
22 March – [Laos] Day of Lao People’s Revolutionary Party
It was the day that the Lao people’s revolutionary party was established by former members of the Indochinese Communist party. It led the insurgency against the royal Lao government and supported north Vietnamese forces in their war against the United States.
27 March – [MYANMAR] Armed Forces Day
Myanmar Armed Forces Day is a yearly event, known locally as “Tatmadaw Nay”. It honors the people of Myanmar who rose against the Japanese during World War II. Armed Forces Day in Myanmar memorializes the army’s resistance to the Japanese occupation of the country in 1945. Every year, the event is observed in the country’s capital city, Naypyidaw, and is marked by a variety of celebrations, the most notable of which is a military parade and displays by Myanmar’s armed forces.
13 – 16 April – [MYANMAR] Maha Thingyan
Thingyan is the most popular event celebrated with water just before Myanmar New Year. Normally, the Thingyan festival is held for four days consecutively and an extra one day is added in certain years. Thingyan is compared with “Songkran” from Thailand since they are on the same days.
The 1st Holiday of the Thingyan Festival also called “A Kyo” means “Welcoming the festival”.
The 2nd Holiday is “A Kya” meaning “Arrival of the festival”.
The 3rd Holiday is “A Kyat” meaning “Celebrating the festival”.
The 4th Holiday is another “A Kyat”.
The 5th Holiday is “A Tat” meaning “Return of the festival”.
14 – 16 April – [CAMBODIA, LAOS] New Year
3-day holiday celebrates Khmer New Year. The first day is called ‘Moha Songkran’, it is the inauguration of the New Angels who come to take care of the world for the new year. People are prepared to welcome the new Angel, based on their preferences. The second day is called ‘Wanabot’ which people go to their hometown to visit their family and relatives as well as offer food or money. The third day is called ‘Leung Sak’, people bathe statues of Buddha and their parents and grandparents with water blessed by monks.
Lao New Year is usually a 3-day public holiday. In Lao, it is also called ‘Songkran’ or ‘Pii Mai’, the traditions and customs are also similar to Thai Songkran. This is the most important festival of the year in Laos.
17 April – [MYANMAR] New Year
Myanmar New Year’s day is just after the end of Thingyan. Young people will visit their elders, and wash their hair for them. Many people listen to scriptures in a temple. It is also popular to release birds into the sky or fish into rivers or lakes. People also like to make food donations. They typically provide free food to those participating in the New Year’s celebrations.
The 10th of the 3rd Lunar Month – [VIETNAM] Hung King Celebration (29 April in 2023)
This ceremony is held to remember and pay tribute to the Hung line of kings who ruled Vietnam as priestly kings. At first, it was a local holiday but has become recognized as a national holiday in 2007. It is scheduled for the 10th of the 3rd lunar month, the 29th of April in 2023.
There is a commemorative procession, which begins at the base of Nghia Linh Mountain. People will go on a pilgrimage up the mountain, and they will stop at various temples along the way until reaching Hung Temple at the peak.
Hung King Celebration
Image credit: mazevietnam.com
30 April – [VIETNAM] Liberation Day
The day is held to commemorate the reunification of Vietnam at the end of the American War. This creates an atmosphere of pride across the country as cities are decorated with flags. Many people also visit their loved ones in their hometowns. Hotels and restaurants may have feasts for their guests. Veterans are celebrated for their sacrifices by their families and friends.
1 May – Labour Day
Same as Thailand, all 4 CLMV countries celebrate Labour Day on the 1st of May annually.
The Full Moon Day of the 2nd Month of the Burmese Calendar – Full Moon Day of Kasong (3 May in 2023)
The major festivity that takes place on Full Moon Day of Kasong is the ceremonial watering of the “Holy Bodhi Tree”. Since Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree, and because it is a hot, dry summer, the watering takes on special significance. Many will go on pilgrimage to the sacred bodhi tree at its pagoda to water it on this day. Many will do good deeds, meditate, and offer flowers or incense to Buddha to gain merit.
The Full Moon Day of the 6th Lunar Month – [CAMBODIA, LAOS] Vesak Day (4 May in 2023)
The most important Buddhist festival, commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and nirvana of Buddha, on the full moon day of the 6th lunar month. In 2023, Vesak falls on the 4th of May. But please note that Thailand will celebrate it in the 7th lunar month, which is the 3rd of June 2023.
The 4th Waning Moon Day in the 6th Lunar Month – [CAMBODIA] Royal Ploughing Ceremony (8 May in 2023)
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, called “Bon Chroat Preah Nongkoal” in the Khmer language, is solemnly celebrated at the beginning of the sowing and planting season on the 4th day of the 6th lunar month’s waning moon, which is usually in May on the western calendar.
Cambodia Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Image credit: boreiangkor.com
14 May – [CAMBODIA] King Sihamoni’s Birthday
The holiday was established to celebrate the Royal Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Baromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of the Cambodian Kingdom.
1 June – [LAOS, VIETNAM] International Children’s Day
Children’s Day is celebrated annually in honor of children. The date of observance varies by country. In Laos and Vietnam, they celebrate it on the 1st of June.
18 June – [CAMBODIA] Queen Mother’s Birthday
This day commemorates the birthday of Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, 87 years of age, she was born in 1936.
The 5th of the 5th Lunar Month – [VIETNAM] Mid-Year Festival (22 June in 2023)
During Mid-Year Festival or Tết Đoan Ngọ, people often cook traditional dishes to offer to ancestors and pray for bumper crops, good business, and good luck in a new season.
Banh U Ba Trang, one of the popular foods to eat during the Mid-Year Festival
Image credit: danangleisure.com
28 June – [VIETNAM] Family Day
On this day, Vietnamese will express gratitude for having the family. People often have a family meal or buy gifts for each other.
The 10th of the 12th Islamic Lunar Month – [Myanmar] Eid al-Adha Day (29 June in 2023)
It is an important day for Muslims, commemorating the sacrifices and devotion of Abraham and his family. Pilgrims from around the world will follow the rituals of Abraham, like circling the Ka’bah (the Grand Mosque in Makkah) which he originally built.
19 July – [MYANMAR] Martyrs’ Day
This is one of the most important national holidays in the country. This celebration was initially created to commemorate the memory of renowned fallen figures within the Myanmar independence movement. This holiday has been celebrated in the country for several decades and remains one of the most important occasions. It also marks an important historical event in Myanmar; recognizing the country’s independence.
20 July – [LAOS] Women’s Union Establishment Day
This is one of the most essential official national holidays in Laos. The purpose of the holiday is to remember the founding of the Lao Women’s Union (Women’s rights organization) on the 20th of July 1955. Nowadays, it carries even more significance, aligning with the global awareness of equal rights for women.
Lao Women’s Union
Image credit: undp.org
The 1st Waning Moon Day of the 8th Month – [CAMBODIA, LAOS] The Beginning of Buddhist Lent (1 August in 2023)
The beginning of Buddhist lent is widely celebrated among Buddhists in South-East Asia.
The Full Moon Day of the 4th Month of the Burmese Calendar – Full Moon Day of Waso (1 August in 2023)
Waso Full Moon Day, also known as Dhammasetkya Day, is observed in the 4th month of the Burmese Calendar. It is the anniversary of the first sermon given by Lord Buddha over 2,500 years ago and also the beginning day of Buddhist Lent.
19 August – [VIETNAM] General Uprising Day
Also known as the August Revolution, it was a revolution initiated by Hồ Chí Minh’s Viet Minh against French and Japanese colonial control in Vietnam on the 19th of August 1945. Therefore, this day is held to commemorate that event.
A pro-Việt Minh rally and parade in front of the Hanoi Opera House on 30 August 1945
Image credit: Wikipedia
2 September – [VIETNAM] National Day
It is a national holiday in Vietnam, commemorating President Hồ Chí Minh reading the declarations of independence of Vietnam on the 2nd of September 1945. Most people will just hang out, but people who pay a lot of attention to this day, they will invite friends over to have a meal and also pray to their ancestors.
10 September – [VIETNAM] Founding Day of Vietnam Fatherland Front
On the 10th of September 1955, the Vietnam Fatherland Front was born, strengthened the unity of all national forces, and encouraged citizens and soldiers to uphold revolutionary heroism.
The 15th Waning Moon Day in the 9th Lunar Month – [LAOS] Boun Hor Khaopadapdin Day (14 September in 2023)
An annual festival when Laotians “feed” spirits with homemade parcels of food, reflecting their love, respect, and gratitude for their deceased ancestors and guardians.
24 September – [CAMBODIA] Constitution Day
This day commemorates the proclamation of the constitution on the 24th of September 1993. An outcome of the agreements was that there would be a new constitution to help transition Cambodia into a modern, democratic country with a constitutional monarchy.
The Full Moon Day of the 10th Lunar Month – [LAOS] Boun Khao Salak Day (29 September in 2023)
Boun Khao Salak, or the celebration of the dead, is followed by Boun Hor Khao Phadapdin for 15 days (the waning moon). During this day, people go to temples to offer food, fruits, and other things along with papers about ancestors that will be read publicly.
Boun Khao Salak Day
Image credit: passionasiatravel.com
The Middle of the 8th Lunar Month – [VIETNAM] Mid-Autumn Festival (29 September in 2023)
Also known as the “Children’s Festival”, since the festival will be full of lanterns, toys, and mooncakes, it is a fun time for Vietnamese kids. Many parts of the country will have event activities and decorations. Mooncake stalls appear everywhere. City districts team up with preparations for toys, lanterns, and colorful masks. Children will carry colorful lanterns and tour their neighborhoods singing songs.
7 October – [LAOS] National Teachers’ Day
It is the day to express gratitude to those who have devoted their lives to teaching others. And since teachers still do not make much money in Laos, it is also the time to thank them for their sacrifices.
The 15th of the 10th Khmer Month – [CAMBODIA] Pchum Ben Festival (13-15 October in 2023)
Pchum Ben, also known as Ancestors’ Day or ‘Hungry Ghosts Festival’, is a 15-day Cambodian religious festival, which culminates in celebrations on the 15th day of the 10th month in the Khmer calendar, marking the end of the Buddhist lent. Pchum means ‘to gather together’ and Ben means a ‘ball of food’. It is the most important festival in the Khmer religious calendar. The day is a time for Khmers to pay their respects to their ancestors of up to seven generations.
15 October – [CAMBODIA] King Father’s Commemoration Day
Commemoration Day to the Royal Soul of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, Preahmahaviraksat, King-Father of the Cambodian National Independence, Territorial Integrity and Unity.
20 October – [VIETNAM] Vietnamese Women’s Day
It is the day to show love and respect to women, whether moms, wives, girlfriends, female relatives, or friends. Women will receive gifts, flowers, and best wishes. This day is also to show gratitude for the dedication of Vietnamese women to economic, political, and social achievements.
The Full Moon Day of the 7th Month of the Burmese Calendar – Full Moon Day of Thadingyut (28 – 30 October in 2023)
Thadingyut is known as the day when Buddha came back from heaven after preached his mom who was reborn there. The day is also well known for its lightning festival. It is the second most popular after Thingyan Festival. This holiday is observed in the 7th month of the Burmese Calendar and also the end of Buddhist Lent. Thadingyut festival lasts for three days.
29 October – [CAMBODIA] King’s Coronation Day
The holiday commemorates the anniversary of the King’s coronation. The king was inaugurated and formally appointed as King on October 29th, 2004.
The 15th Waxing Moon Day on the 11th Lunar Month – [CAMBODIA, LAOS] End of Buddhist Lent (29 October in 2023)
The end of the three-month Buddhist Lent period and the traditional end of the rainy season.
The Day After The End of Buddhist Lent – [LAOS] Boat Racing Festival (30 October in 2023)
The Boat Racing Festival is typically held in Vientiane, Laos, the day after Buddhist Lent ends. The traditional racing boats are carved from a single tree. In the days before the races, the boats are cleaned and given offerings as they are considered sacred items.
Boat Racing Festival
Image credit: halendar
9 November – [CAMBODIA] Independence Day
The holiday was established to celebrate the anniversary of Cambodia’s independence from France on the 9th of November 1953 and is Cambodia’s national holiday. As well this is a commemoration of the King’s father, Norodom Sihanouk, who achievement of uniting the Khmer people and relentlessly protect the Kingdom of Cambodia.
12 November – [MYANMAR] Diwali/Deepavali Day (Date changes each year)
Diwali/Deepavali or The Festival of Lights is one of the most important Hindu festivals. The celebration revolves around the triumph of good over evil, purity over impurity, and light over darkness.
20 November – [VIETNAM] Vietnamese Teachers’ Day
Vietnamese students and parents will give flowers or gifts to teachers. It is the day to express gratitude to the work of teachers and people who work in the education field.
The First Full Moon Following The Rainy Season – [CAMBODIA] Water Festival (26 – 28 November)
Cambodian Water Festival, is a 3-day festival celebrated on the first full moon after the rainy season, which is usually in October or November. The festival marks the switching of the flow back to its normal direction, signifying the end of the rainy season. Essentially, the festival is a time to give thanks to the rivers as they provide the region with fertile farming land and plenty of fish. The festival is focused on boat races and concerts.
Image credit: rove.me
The Full Moon Day of the 8th Month of the Burmese Calendar – Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone (26 – 27 November in 2023)
Around The Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone time, there will be a lot of events such as providing robes and various requisites to monks at Ka-Htain, Matho Thingan or Robe Weaving contest, and Hot Air Balloon festival. This is also the last month to offer Ka-Htain robes to monks.
The Full Moon Day of the 12th Lunar Month – [LAOS] That Luang Festival (27 November in 2023)
This is one of the most popular national holidays in Laos. It attracts pilgrims from all over the country and from other countries. Pha That Luang is the national symbol of Laos; accordingly, the 3-day religious festival, held in its name, is a grand affair. There will be a procession that begins at Wat Si Muang in the city center and proceeds to That Luang to make offerings to the monks. The festival also includes a trade fair which starts a few days prior to the actual festival days.
2 December – [LAOS] National Day
The holiday marks the end of the monarchy’s rule and the establishment of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 1975. There are rallies at daybreak, parades and performances around the entire country.
10 Days After the Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone – [MYANMAR] National Day (7 December in 2023)
National Day is an annual public holiday in Myanmar. It is celebrated on the tenth day following the full moon day of Tazaungmone. The holidays marks the beginning of student-led protests against the British in 1920.
25 December – Christmas Day
Although Myanmar’s majority are Buddhist, Christmas day is a national holiday in Myanmar.
For Vietnam, it is not a holiday, but the Christmas festival is big there. Christian villages often have a big festival on the 23rd – 25th of December to sell food and have performances.
Christmas Night in Yangon
Image credit: xinhuanet.com
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