Cambodians enjoy a long list of secular and religious holidays every year. They share some holidays with western countries, but many are unique to Cambodia. Whenever a public holiday falls on a Sunday, it is observed the following day. Here is a list of the public holidays in Cambodia that will be celebrated in 2020.
January 1: New Year’s Day
Cambodians drink and dance in the streets, and will also frequently throw water at each other during the countdown to the new year.
January 7: Victory over Genocide Day
The end of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime is commemorated with memorials to those who were killed in the genocide.
March 8: International Women’s Day
This is a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women, and to eradicating violence against women.
April 13-16: Khmer New Year
In a society where many people still work the land, this four-day harvest festival is considered the most important of all the public holidays in Cambodia. Many city-dwellers will head to the Angkor Archaeological Park for Angkor Sankranta, a giant festival with traditional games, dancing, food and exhibitions all highlighting Khmer culture.
May 1: International Labor Day
Also known as International Worker’s Day or May Day, this is a day to celebrate the achievements and importance of the working class.
May 6: Visak Bochea
This holiest day in the Buddhist calendar marks the birth, death, and attainment of enlightenment of the Buddha. Both public and private areas will be freshly cleaned and decorated with flowers, and many people will visit statues of the Buddha with lit candles in the evening.
May 10: Royal Plowing Ceremony
This holiday marks the start of the rainy season with feasts and prayers for a bountiful harvest. The highlight of the day is the ceremony in which the king actually does a bit of plowing and planting for the traditional beginning of the rice-growing season.
May 14: King Sihamoni’s Birthday
The current king of Cambodia will be 67 this year on May 14, which is a public holiday in Cambodia in honor the popular monarch.
June 18: Queen Mother’s Birthday
The Queen Mum of Cambodia will be 84 years old in 2020. Cambodians celebrate her birthday with family-friendly activities and fireworks.
September 16-18: Pchum Ben
Also known as Ancestor’s Day, this Buddhist holiday is the time to remember dearly departed relatives.
September 24: Constitution Day
After centuries of hardship caused by invasions, occupations, and the genocidal Khmer Rouge, having a modern constitution is definitely cause for celebration.
October 15: Commemoration Day of King’s Father
Anniversary of the death of the current king’s father, who passed away in 2012.
October 29: King Sihamoni Coronation Day
The anniversary of the king’s coronation in 2004 is celebrated with fireworks, parades, and a variety of cultural events.
October 30 – November 1: Water Festival ( Bon Om Touk)
This three-day festival marks the time of year when the Tonle Sap River changes course, and also commemorates a 12th Century naval victory with boat races and fireworks.
November 9: Independence Day
Parades and fireworks are standard features of the celebrations to mark the anniversary of independence from France in 1953.