Thailand Date Formats
In the West we are used to the Gregorian calendar of dates, 365 days a year, twelve months in a year, ten years in a decade and 100 years in a century. However, for centuries in Thailand they have been using the Lunar calendar or Buddhist calendar. This is the calendar which begins with the Epochal date - or year zero represented by the year Lord Buddha gained Parinibbana, or the time he gained nirvana / enlightenment. This means that the Buddhist calendar is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. So, the year 2021 is 2564 in the Buddhist calendar.
Thailand has, in fact changed its calendar system three times in the past 150 years. First came the Solar calendar in 1889, introduced by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), from the King and I fame, which replaced the old Lunar calendar. Actually, the first day of the year was April 1st until it was changed in 1941 to January 1st, thereby aligning it with the Gregorian calendar.
The years now follow the Buddhist Era which was introduced in 1913 to replace the Rattanakosin Era, which in turn replaced the Chula Sakarat in 1889. The Buddhist Era in Thailand is 543 years ahead of the Common Era (Anno Domini).
The Thai Lunar calendar is closely linked to the Chinese Zodiac having 12 or 13 months in a year and 15 waxing moons and 14/15 waning moons, with years also following the animals of the Chinese zodiac, with several dates used to count a new year.
In modern day Thailand the Solar calendar with its seven day week is used for everyday business and commerce, but the Lunar calendar is still used for public holidays, Buddhist festivals, birthdays and is still commonly found in newspapers and magazines.
When births are registered in Thailand they will typically record the date, month and time followed by day of the week, Lunar calendar year and Zodiac animal name.
Thai Lunar Calendar
The older system, the Thai Lunar Calendar was tradionally the primary calendar in use.
This follows the lunar cycle and contains 12 or 13 months per year, with 15 waxing moon days and 14-15 waning moon days per month.
Nowadays the lunar calendar is only used for setting significant Buddhist dates and holidays, but is otherwise rarely used in day to day life.
Thai Solar Calendar
In 1889 King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) introduced the Thai Solar Calendar, which follows the solar cycles and now mirrors the Gregorian calendar exactly in regards to days and months.
The Thai Solar Calendar differs from the Gregorian calendar in years since it follows the Buddhist Era, which is 543 years ahead.
Thai New Year
New Year has multiple meanings in Thailand, depending which year is being referred to.
Like most countries, the 1st January is celebrated as the start of the Solar calendar year, with this being a major holiday for Thai people.
In addition Thai New Year, commonly known as Songkran, is officially on the 13th April although the holiday period extends from 13th-15th April.
Although not an official holiday, Chinese new year is also commonly celebrated, due to a large portion of the Thai population having Chinese ancestry.
Days of the week
Days of the week in Thailand come from Sanskrit origins and are named after the sun, moon and planets.
Thai beliefs place significance on the day of the week that a person is born, in a similar way to zodiac signs.
|English name||Thai name||Thai Pronunciation||Colour||Sanskrit word||Planet|
The days of the week are named after the Indian astrological Navagraha, for example; the sun, moon and five classical planets. Along with an Indian character, each day is also given a colour which is auspicious to that particular day. So, for example…
Monday (in Thai is “Wan Chan”) - Sanskrit word “Chandra”
Named after the Moon - colour Yellow
Tuesday (in Thai is “Wan angkhaan”) - Sanskrit word “Angaraka”
Named after the Mars - colour Pink
Wednesday (in Thai is “Wan Phut”) - Sanskrit word “Budha”
Named after the Mercury - colour Green
Thursday (in Thai is “Wan Paruhat”) - Sanskrit word “Brihaspati”
Named after the Jupiter - colour Orange
Friday (in Thai is “Wan Suk”) - Sanskrit word “Shukra”
Named after the Venus - colour Blue
Saturday (in Thai is “Wan Sao”) - Sanskrit word “Shani”
Named after the Saturn - colour Purple
Sunday (in Thai is “Wan Aathit”) - Sanskrit word “Aditya”
Named after the Sun - colour Red
There are also some anomalies to each of the days too, for example, Wednesday day is represented by the colour green. However, Wednesday night is represented by light green.
In addition to being named after an Indian Character, having a colour, each day of the week also has a divine deity (divine being, god) which is assigned. These deity’s are also worshipped in India, Nepal as well as Thailand.
As in the west, Saturday and Sunday are legal non-workdays. These days are signified in red on Thai calendars. Although as with these days in the east, several businesses still work on weekends.