Happy New Years in Cambodia
New Years in Cambodia
For Americans, the month of December is filled with festive holiday celebrations, from Christmas to the New Year’s. For many places around the world, such as Cambodia, they ring in their New Year in mid April; it is a holiday that is celebrated for three days from the 14th of April to the 17th.
A predominantly Buddhist country, Cambodia values their New Year celebration seriously as the end of the harvesting season; it is thus a time for allowing farmers to enjoy their fruits of their labor.
On the first day of the celebration, Cambodians clean and prepare their homes-- specifically, many polish their altars to welcome their ancestral spirits with a Buddha statue and burning incense sticks. In addition to the burning of incense, flowers, a bowl of fruits and drinks are placed on the altar to serve as “offerings.” Nevertheless, the cleaning of the house and spotless polishing all around is very crucial as they open their doors to the New Year.
On the second day of Cambodians’ New Years celebrations, the locals will visit temples (also known as wats) and bring along with them food offerings to the monks. As I recall my years back home, taken along with my Mother to the temple, the atmosphere all around was energetic yet somehow relaxing. The locals were all in good spirits as they rang in the New Year by visiting the temple and paying respect to the monks, who wished them a multitude of good fortunes and good health in the upcoming New Year.
On the third and final day of celebration, Cambodians are most likely to return to the temples or pagodas. Notably, locals are often showered by monks, who they believe have the power to wash away bad luck and bless them with water and flower petals. It is seen as a great honor, and every local hopes to be blessed by their monks. The excitement and exuberance is palpable! The festivities never seem to stop. Once a year Cambodians are able to come together and celebrate a new beginning, and it is something they do not take lightly.
Cambodians’ New Year is a way for us to welcome new rains and forget the bad droughts of last year; to forget the poor harvests of the previous season and to hope for better harvests in the future. The annual celebration calls out for a joyous outpouring among fellow Cambodians as they hope the New Year will bring them good health, happiness, and prosperity for all.
Sreymich lives in sunny side California and attends John Marshall High School as a junior. Currently she is going through a phase of discovering her passion. From interning for Tomas O’Grady City Council Campaign to volunteering at her local hospital and now writing for Her Culture blog, Sreymich's interests vary across a wide spectrum and she loves it! Sreymich has been on my school volleyball team for two years now where she has a love-hate relationship with the sport. When Sreymich is not studying for the SAT, she loves hiking, going to the beach (even though she can't swim), is slightly addicted to watching Youtube vlogs, and strumming obnoxiously on her ukulele. Carbs (bread, cookies, muffins, all kinds!) makes Sreymich happy, but so does staying fit. After high school, she hopes to do something great and give back; travel and go zip lining through the Amazon Rainforest.