Cambodian New Year is a special nationwide holiday, so we’ve got all the info you need to know. In 2015, this holiday will begin with New Year’s Day – Monday, April 13th- and will last until Thursday the 16th. So now you may be thinking “New Year in April?
Yup, New Year in April. Cambodians celebrate New Year according to the Lunisolar Calendar, contrary to many of its neighboring countries celebrating the Lunar Calendar New Year (link to Tet post). This time of year is also special because it marks the end of the dry season, and beginning of the rainy season. For the Khmer, this means it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labor (literally) with your family. So, you may notice that around this time, cities seem to be calm and not as hectic as usual, due to people visiting their families.
Cambodian New Year is a very festive holiday, and like many thing in Khmer culture- very colorful! Some parts of the celebration may seem very familiar to you, such as fireworks and lots of eating and drinking. However, other parts of the New Year celebration may not. Pagodas and temples can be seen with vibrant flags sticking out of newly piled mounds of sand, and there is even a tradition of pouring colorful water on each other!
Each day of this 3 day celebration has its own traditions.
The first day of the Cambodian New Year- Moha Sangkran- is a day for cleaning and lighting up ones home. Candles, incense, aromatic water, fruit, and other things surround every Buddhist altar in this predominantly Buddhist country.
The second day- Vanabot- is the day of gifts. The Khmer donate to the poor and then family members exchange gifts. Some companies and businesses may partake in this by giving extra cash bonuses to its employees. (Kind of like Christmas!)
The third and final day- Leung Sakk- is the day to pray for a good rainy season so that there will be plenty of crops. The Khmer do this by washing the Buddhist altar with the aromatic water.