January 6, 2013

King Norodom Sihamoni's Birthday

Cambodians celebrate many holidays. There are 18 public holidays in Cambodia, which is officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia. Several of these holidays, including the King's Birthday, take place over the course of three days. Many people celebrate Christmas, though that is not an official holiday in Cambodia. Public holidays include Buddhist holidays, the King's Birthday and birthdays of former monarchs, the celebration of Cambodia's independence from France, and many others. A list of all Cambodian public holidays can be found at flightpedia.org. According to thediplomat.com, many Cambodians live in poverty, and holidays are considered a form of empowerment.

His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni was born on May 14, 1953. He has ruled since his father's abdication in 2005. Prior to becoming King, he worked as a ballet instructor and a cultural ambassador. He spent many years living in foreign countries, speaks four languages, and has worked to promote Cambodian culture internationally.

The public holiday for His Majesty's birthday takes place over the course of three days, usually beginning the day before the King's birthday and ending the day after, unless His Majesty's birthday falls on a weekend. It is considered to be a rather low-key celebration in comparison to other Cambodian holidays, for example Pchum Ben, a religious holiday, and the Water Festival, which celebrates the end of the monsoon season.

During the three-day holiday, almost all offices, businesses, and government buildings are closed. Cambodians get three days off work. Buildings are decorated with colorful lights. Government buildings display portraits of the King. People raise the national flag from their homes. Some people use their time off to visit with family or to travel. Many people give parties on the evening of the King's birthday. The biggest celebration takes place on the river in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Fireworks are launched on the riverbank and are reflected in the river. Tourism is Cambodia's second-biggest industry, and many foreign tourists visit Cambodia for the King's birthday as well as other holidays, fascinated by the country's festivities, religious fervor, culture, and history.

 The King's father, Former HM King Norodom Sihanouk, ruled from 1939 to 2005 and was very popular with his people. His birthday, October 31, has been celebrated as a public holiday even after his abdication; however, this may no longer be the case, as he recently passed away. The Cambodians have deep affection for the current King's mother, who is known as the Queen Mother. Her birthday, June 18, is also celebrated as a public holiday. However, the former Queen's birthday is a minor holiday.

Birthday shoutouts to Emily and Luke

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting! How fun to throw parties for someone's birthday when you don't even know them!