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Festivals, Holidays & Celebrations in Myanmar (Sortable)
Kayin New Year
Chinese New Year
toun2-thu2-leare2 tha1-ma3 nay1
Tabaung Full Moon Day
da1-boun3 la1-pyay1 nay1
Armed Forces Day
Burmese New Year
Kasone Full Moon Day
ka1-hsone2 la1-pyay1 nay1
Warso Full Moon Day
wa2-hso2 la1-pyay1 da1-ma2-set-kja2 nay1
Da Zaung Daing
Extra Wa2-Hso2 Month was added in those years
Myanmar Calendar Year
Sabbath Day - u1-boat-nay1
Each Burmese Calendar Months la1 (which means "Moon") are broken into before or after the
Full Mon Day starting from New Moon Day. New Moon Day (waxing of the moon) is the first night the moon appears as a crescent in the night
sky after the moonless night. Each Calendar month starts with the New Moon Day,
or la1-hsun3 in Burmese.
la1-hsun3 days are counted from 1 up to 13 or 14 depending
on the month having 29 days or 30 days until the Full Moon Day. For example,
la1-hsun3 chout yet nay1 refers to sixth (chout) day after
the New Moon Day where nay1 means "Day" and yet is the measure
word for the number of days.
Full Moon Day is known as la1-pyay1 nay1 where pyay1 refers to
"be full" or "to be filled up completely".
The days after the Full Moon Day known as la1-hsoat (waning of the moon) are then counted from 1 up to 13 or 14
until the Moonless Night. la1-hsoat ta1-yet nay1 refers to the first day after the Full Moon Day
where ta1 is how "one" tit is pronounced when followed by the
measure word yet or other multiple words. (e.g. multiple word 100X
ta1-Ya2 means one hundred.)
The day of Moonless Night is known as la1-kweare2 nay1 where kweare2 is
used to describe the view hidden or obstructed by something. The associated word kweare2-loon2 means
to pass away (i.e, someone dies.)
Devout Buddhists in Myanmar observe Sabbath Day (u1-boat-nay1) which falls on Full Moon Days, The days
of Moonless Nights, and every 8th day after the Full Moon Days and Moonless Nights. That means there are four
u1-boat-nay1 in a month, or roughly one every week.
During u1-boat nay1, people meditate, say prayers, send loving-kindness in all directions to all beings,
listen to Dhamma talks by the monks, and practice 5 precepts, namely (1) Not taking life (2) Not taking what is not given (3) Follow Right
Speech (4) Refrain from sexual misconduct, and (5) Refrain from consumption of alcohol. Some Buddhists also fast for at least half a day (after
Noon time), or take vegetarian food thet-thut-lootsa3ja1deare2 during u1-boat nay1.
The word thet-thut-loot is made up of the words life + kill + empty. It means free from killing.
Lesson 26: Festivals, Holidays, and Celebrations in Myanmar
To every thing there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
- Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
For minority ethnic groups such as Kayin, Kachin, Chin as well as some Burmese, December is the time to celebrate Christmas.
Christmas Day is an official holiday in Myanmar. Yes, in Myanmar there are Christmas celebrations.
-- Yes, we do celebrate Christmas in Myanmar
Myanmar Calendar System and Months in Burmese
Myanmar Calendar is based on Lunar system which has alternating months with 29 days and 30 days, and a total of 12 months in a (normal) year.
Simple calculation shows that it all adds up to only 354 days in a year, which is much less than approximately 365 days
for the earth to go around the sun. Since the weather and regular seasons on earth more or less follow the solar calendar rather than the lunar
months, that must have been a problem for farmers who must grow crops at the regular intervals such as at the start of
monsoon season around mind-June every year.
In order to make up for loss days in a year, Burmese Calendar adds an extra month every 3 years known
as wa2htutdeare2. Basically,
always falls around July every 3 years or so. In the long run, even that is not sufficient to make up for the loss days, so
the interval of adding an extra month is sometimes reduced to 2 years known as
According to some elders, wa2 ji3htutdeare2
occurs roughly every 10 years interval in addition to
wa2htutdeare2 at every 3 year interval. Well, not exactly right.
I know it has something to do with the frequency within the 19 years interval, but I have not
verified the calculations. I have included in the left column of this page the historic pattern of Myanmar Calendar adding an extra
month for the last 100 years.
Burmese New Year starts around mid-April every year, and months are as follow:
Months in Myanmar Calendar
da1-gu3 -- Mid April after thin3-kjan2 Water Festival
wa2-hso2 -- Extra month is added every 3 years and 2 years intervals
If you take a look at the Calendar in Myanmar with both International Dates and Burmese Months, another curious thing you will find is
that the days 1,2,3,4 in Burmese only go up to 14. Please refer to u1-boat-nay1 explained in the column on the
left side of this page.
The year AD 2012 is the year 1374 in Myanmar Calendar.
Days in Myanmar Calendar
Festivals, Celebrations, and Public Holidays in Myanmar for 2017
Since traditional Burmese festivals follow the lunar calendar, most except for the Water Festival and Burmese New Year, fall on
different Gregorian dates every year. The following table shows the public holidays (Dates shown in red), festivals,
and celebrations for the year 2017.
On the other hand, some public holidays such as Independence Day, Martyrs' Day, and Christmas follow the Gregorian Calendar, and fall on the same
date every year.
Important Days in Myanmar (2017)
Jan 4, 2017
Independence Day (Gregorian) - Nationwide
ကချင်ရိုးရာမနောပွဲ |ka1-chin2 yo3-ya2 ma1-nau3 pweare3Kachin Manaw Festival - Myitkyina, Kachin State (Dates to be determined)
ကထိန် | ka1-htain2 Festival - exact date varies from place to place
Hot-air Balloon Festival - Taunggyi, Shan State around Inle Lake region
မသိုးသင်္ကန်း | ma1-tho3 thin2-gun3 Festival. All night long weaving of robes for monks competition - Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
တန်ဆောင်တိုင် | Ta1-zoun2 Dine2 Full Moon Lantern Festival - Nationwide
Offering of ဆီမီးကိုးထောင် | hsi2-mi3 ko3-htoun2 (9,000 Candles) - Koe Htut Gyi Pagoda, Yangon
အမျိုးသားနေ့ | a-myo3-tha3-nay1 - National Day - Nationwide
Kayin New Year - Kayin State and Yangon
Christmas - Nationwide
New Year's Eve party- Private celebration for expatriates
Festivals, Holidays & Celebrations in Myanmar
Here is What Myanmar Thingyan looks like. I made this video.
Water festivalsthin3-kjan2 followed by Burmese New Yearhnit-thit-ku3 around Mid-April are probably the most enjoyable and the most celebrated Myanmar holidays. But, a word
of caution here. If you have an official government business, try to do ahead of time as there can be as many as 10 straight holidays including
Saturday and Sunday. And, if you are in downtown Yangon, it is strongly advised against taking a flight during the water festivals, as the
main roads to the Yangon International Airport from your hotel will be all clogged. Oh, yes, be prepared to get splashed by water if you go out in the street.
How do you wish a "Happy New Year" to a Burmese? Good Question. I guess Burmese people don't waste time wishing because we know for
sure we are going to be happy, and New Year day will surely come whether you wish or not. Radio DJ's might say
min2-gla2 hnit thit ku3ba2, but it is not a common collquial usage that Burmese
people will say to each other.
Give me once more in front of live audience. The ladies are dancing traditional Myanmar synchronized "Yain" Dance in tune with modern drum beats. This type of drum beat has become a norm in this time of the year. The first part of the song is oldie like from the 1930's. The ending part of re-mix is currently a popular Thingyan Water Festival Song which has become a classic.
Seriously, there is no Burmese phrase equivalent to "Kong Hee Fat Choi" in Cantonese, "Gong Xi Fa Cai" in Mandarin, or
"Happy New Year" in English. You can just say, "Happy thin3-kjan2 or tha1-kjan2,
and any educated class will understand what you mean. You can expect song and dance and water splashing to continue for five days before the New Year Day.
Myanmar shares Chinese New Year Day, Christmas day, and
May Day (Labor Day) with some other Nations as official holidays. In addition, Muslims
celebrate it-nay1 to mark the end of a month long fasting and Hindu have their
own de2-pa2-wa1-li2 nay1 ( Deepavali Day). Yes, you must have guessed it right.
nay1 refers to "day" in Burmese.
Kasone Full Moon Day or ka1-hsone2 la1 pyay1 nay1 is known as
Visak Day in Malaysia and Singapore. It is the day of celebration for the Buddhists. This is the day
the Buddha was born, reached enlightenment and pass away (to Nibbana).
Burmese people celebrate dtha1-din3-kjoot and da1-zoun2-dine2 to mark the end of rainy
season with fire crackers and lighting up of candles and lanterns. The lanterns decorated in this tradition are remarkably similar to those
used in Chinese mid-autumn lantern festival. In Burmese tradition, this is supposed to be the day the Buddha taught Abhidhamma (higher learning)
to beings in the heavenly world.
During those periods, thet-kji3pu2-zau2pweare3
are held where younger people pay respect to
thet-kj13 (the elders), hsa1-ya2 (teachers), and mi1-ba1 (parents).
ka1-htain2 lucky draws for the Buddhist monasteries are held anytime from after the
dtha1-din3-kjoot full moon day to the full moon day
of da1-zoun2-mone3 with money and daily necessities for the monks donated by the lay people. The actual date may be
different from community to community even in the same town.
pweare3 means festival. pfa1-ya3 pweare3 are festivals held in pagodas at night,
usually during cool months after the rainy season, which also happen to be "tourist" season in Myanmar.
As for other religious activities Myanmar, devout Buddhists observe u1-boat-nay1 individually, or as a
group every week, while Christians attend the pfa1-ya3 kjoun3 (Church) every Sunday, and Muslims say their prayers
in the ba1-li2 (Mosque) every Friday. u1-boat-nay1, is further explained in the left column
of this page.
For those doing research for your school project, etc., I might as well include other historic holidays. National Day
known as a-myo3-tha3-nay1 falls on the 10th of Burmese calendar month da1-zoun2-mone3
after the Full Moon Day. That's the anniversary to mark the strike against the British rule by the University students back in 1920.
tut-ma1-dau2 nay1(Armed Forces Day) which falls on March 27th was previously known
by the name of tau2-hlan2-yay3 nay1(Revolution Day). Back in 1945, near the end of
World War II on that day, Burmese Army switched side and fought back the Japanese.
pyi2-htoun2-su1 nay1 known as Union Day in English (on February 12th) was the day
Bogyoke (General) Aung San met with ethnic leaders (most importantly the Shan people) in the place called Pinlone
where they agreed to join the Union of Burma as a trial run for 10 years after independence. Burma was still under British rule.
Unfortunately, General Aung San (father of Nobel Laureate and NLD Leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) did not live to
see loot-lut-yay3 nay1(Independence day) on January 4th 1948, as he was assassinated
a year earlier on July 19th. The anniversary of that day is known as ah2-za2-ni2 nay1, or
Martyr's Day in English.
Myanmar also observes some other events that are not public holidays. Myanmar Women's Day, for example, has been observed since 3 July 1996.
The event is organized by the Myanmar National Committee for Women's Affairs (MNCWA), which was founded on 3 July 1996. This organization was
renamed as Myanmar Women Affairs Federation on 20 December 2003. Annual awards are given to honor outstanding women with focus on excellence in
business, literature, sports and education.
Making a New Year's resolution in Burmese
Many Westerners have the tradition of making New Year's Resolutions. Having a good life with abundance of food, many wish
to lose weight in the coming year. Do Myanmar people make New Year's Resolutions? It's like asking: "Do Myanmar people celebrate Mother's Day?"
Yes, we do. Every day of the year is Mother's Day. Every day of the year is Father's Day. And every moment of the day is the opportunity for us as
human beings to improve, to change, to celebrate life, to start afresh, to appreciate what the World has to offer to us here & now, to abandon
what is evil, and to do what is good. With that note, I'd like to wish you a Happy New Year -- every day of the year!
2016 Update for Mother's Day
No, it's not in May and it's not a public holiday. But, with more people spreading the trend on the social media such as facebook,
celebrating Myanmar Mother's Day has gained momentum in 2016 in honor of mothers on the full Moon day of the month of
pya2-tho2. In 2016, it falls on Sunday, January 24th. If more people participate in this trend, it will be in
the same month on the full moon day in Burmese Calendar from now on. OK, So, every day is Mother's day and we are happy every day, but
that day is even MORE SPECIAL and we are 150% happier. Isn't that great? What's more? Some of us will again celebrate Mother's Day
on the Second Sunday of May, as this too has become a trend promoted by the commercial business to increase sales.