Buddhist Holidays Calendar - Buddhist Observances

Many people rely on a calendar to mark important dates and schedule upcoming events. However, they may not be aware that many different types of calendars exist worldwide. For example, countries in Southeast Asia such as Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar rely on a Buddhist calendar. This type of calendar is called lunisolar because it uses dates based on the moon phase and the time of the solar year. The Buddhist calendar contains months that alternate between 29 and 30 days.

Tibetan Calendar

The Tibetan calendar is a unique system that includes 360 days and a complicated system of "skip-days" and "extra days". Losar, the official Tibetan New Year, is celebrated close to the February new moon on the first day of the first month of the calendar.

Although the official calendar is lunar, it is based on three different lunar and solar systems: the Tibetan New Year in February, the Kalachakra New Year in April and the Elemental New Year in December. Each year is ruled by one of the five elements and one of 12 animal signs like ones in the Chinese calendar. Although most years include 12 months, an extra month is sometimes added so the Tibetan calendar corresponds with solar days.

Buddhist Holidays

Buddhists celebrate many different holidays throughout the year. The events and dates vary depending on the particular country. Most Buddhist holidays are very joyous occasions that focus on the important events in the life of the Buddha - the founder of Buddhism. Events often begin with a visit to a local temple where participants engage in activities such as distributing food to the poor or offering items to monks at the temples. Evenings usually consist of meditation and chanting Buddha's teachings.

Buddhist Festivals

The Buddhist festival is a joyous, happy event. Events reflect the advice Buddha gave to his followers to "meet together regularly and in large numbers" in order to thrive. Festivals are opportunities to celebrate and thank Buddha for his teachings. One of the most important Buddhist festivals is Buddha's Enlightenment. The actual celebration of the event is called Wesak, which is the most important Buddhist festival of the year.

Buddhist New Year

The Buddhist New Year is a time of celebration and hope for the upcoming year. The event allows participants to reflect on their past and rectify the mistakes they have made. Actual festivities vary from country to country. In some parts of the world, Buddhists parade images of Buddha throughout the streets, others playfully wander the streets squiring water on everyone they encounter and statues are often worshiped and ceremonially bathed during this time.

People celebrate the Buddhist New Year at many different times of the year depending on their country or ethnic background. For example, in countries where Theravadin Buddhism is practiced such as Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, the event is celebrated for 3 days starting from the day of the first full moon in April. In Mahayana countries, the Buddhist New Year occurs on the day of the first full moon in January. Individuals in countries such as China, Korea and Vietnam normally celebrate in late January, whereas Tibetan Buddhists celebrate later in the year in March.

Buddhist Holidays 2008 International Date Planners

In addition to the Buddhist New Year, Buddhists celebrate many other events throughout the year. The following are some important Buddhist Holidays 2008 International Date Planners:
  • New Year - January 25
  • Nirvana Day - February 8
  • Wesak - April 24 to May 1
  • Visakha Puja - May 24
  • Ulambana - July 13
  • Bodhi Day or Rohatsu - December 8