What Are Cambodian New Year Traditions?

Khmer New Year, or Choul Chnam Thmey in the Khmer (Cambodian) language, is the greatest traditional festival and an official public holiday in Cambodia. The festival of great traditions, Cultural rituals and Happy events indicate the end of a year and the new beginning. Let us have a detailed look at the Cambodian New Year traditions that combine to bring life to this meaningful event.
Dates and Significance

Three-Day Celebration
The Cambodian New Year is generally observed on either April 13th or April 14th, and the festival itself may last for three days. Every day has its own particular rituals, and meaning. The end of the traditional lunar year and the start of a new one is celebrated and corresponds to the end of the long dry season and the start of the short rainy season, which is important for agriculture.
Day One: Maha Sangkran

Welcoming the New Year
Maha Sangkran (Cambodian New Year) — Day 1, New Year Eve For example, Cambodians clean and embellish their homes with flowers, candles and incense used to invite Tevada Chhnam Thmey, the New Year's angel. Serving meals for monks at a temple and seeking blessing from this sacred ceremony is one of popular activities that family do on this day. Performed traditional plays and dances and wear their most beautiful suits to celebrate the event.
Day Two: Virak Vanabat

Respecting the Dead and Offering Aid to the Living
The second day, Virak Vanabat or day of the dead is dedicated to remembering the ancestors and elders. In Cambodia, people go to temples or perform ceremonies at home to make offerings to their dead family members. It is known as a day of charity where people give food, clothes, and money to those in need. It is a day to remind ourselves of the importance of compassion, desire to give, and willingness to help others in the community.
Day Three: Vearak Loeng Sak

Washing Away Sins

The third day, Vearak Loeng Sak, features the sompeah Preah Ang Reak, or ceremony of "Pithi Srang Preah," in which Buddha statues, monks, and older persons are bathed with perfumed water. It actually means to wash away sins and bad luck and start the new year afresh. Reunite with family at to pour water over each other, symbolize Ways and blessings into the New Year.
Traditional Foods and Feasts

Special Dishes
In the Cambodian New Year celebrations, food, of course, is at the center of the festivities. Delicious dishes such as ”kralan” (sticky rice cooked in bamboo), ”num ansom” (banana leaf cakes), and range of curry and soup are served for family and visitors. Feasts that are synonymous with plentitude and the spread of wealth

Cultural exhibitions and games

Music and Dance
Folk music and dance performances are an indispensable part of the celebration. The famous Apsara dancers, wearing their beautiful costumes, put on classic dance performances that display Cambodian mythology and history in dance form. Folk dances and music as well as modern ones also ensure a lively, entertaining evening.
Traditional Games

Some of the traditional games are a very important part of the celebrations. Bos angkunh, chol chhoung, lek kantuy are popular games, respectively nuts throwing, throwing the balls with a piece of cloth and hitting a container blindfolded. They build camaraderie and are fun for kids of all ages and around the same page flip books.
Modern Adaptations

Urban Celebrations
In more recent times, Cambodian New Year has changed somewhat and in urban areas people light firecrackers as well as the "three flowers" in order to chase away evil spirits, as well as offering a family feast. Yet through time, the essence of the celebration — a time to honour ancestors, head to temples and be with family, remains as vibrant as ever.
Global Celebrations

In cities around the globe, Cambodians celebrate the coming of the New Year representing and maintaining their cultural heritages, and this even without returning to the homeland. It may have some traditional events like cultural shows, Cambodian traditional food, and is a good way to preserve the Khmer Arts and Culture and bring the community together.


Cambodian New Year is a wonderful patchwork of cultural customs, spiritual observances and community celebrations that honours the country's customs and values. This lively celebration does more than just signal the passage of time; it galvanizes family, community, and cultural identity. Visit cambodian new year traditions for more Cambodian New Year traditions and beyond.

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