The Thai solar calendar (Thai : ปฏิทินสุริยคติ, RTGS: patithin suriyakhati, "solar calendar") was adopted by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in 1888 CE as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar, replacing the Thai lunar calendar as the legal calendar in Thailand (though the latter is still also used, especially for traditional and religious events). Years are now counted in the Buddhist Era (B.E.): พุทธศักราช, พ.ศ., ( RTGS: Phutthasakkarat) which is 543 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.
The Siamese generally used two calendars, a sacred and a popular (vulgar in the classical sense). The vulgar or minor era (จุลศักราช, chula sakarat) was thought to have been instituted when the worship of Gautama was first introduced, and corresponds to the traditional Burmese calendar (abbreviated ME or BE, the latter not to be confused with the abbreviation for the Buddhist Era, which is the sacred era.)
King Chulalongkorn decreed a change in vulgar reckoning to the Rattanakosin Era (รัตนโกสินทรศก, Rattanakosin Sok abbreviated ร.ศ. and R.S.) in 1889 CE. The epoch (reference date) for Year 1 was 6 April 1782 with the accession of Rama I, the foundation of the Chakri Dynasty, and the founding of Bangkok (Rattanakosin) as capital. To convert years in R.S. to the Common Era, add 1781 for dates from 6 April to December, and 1782 for dates from January to 5 April.
In Thailand the sacred, or Buddhist Era, is reckoned to have an epochal year 0 from 11 March 543 BC, believed to be the date of the death of Gautama Buddha. King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) changed year counting to this Buddhist Era (abbreviated BE) and moved the start of the year back to 1 April in 2455 BE, 1912 CE. As there is no longer any reference to a vulgar or popular era, the Common Era may be presumed to have taken the place of the former.
New Year, the time at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar's year count is incremented, originally coincided with the date calculated for Songkran, when the Sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac as reckoned by sidereal astrology: thus the year commenced on 11 April 1822.As previously noted, Rama VI moved the start of the year back to 1 April in 2455 BE, 1912 CE, so that 130 R.S. only lasted for 356 days from 11 April 1911 to 31 March 1912.
On 6 September 1940, Prime Minister Phibunsongkhram decreed1 January 1941 as the start of the year 2484 BE, so year 2483 BE had only nine months running from 1 April to 31 December 1940. To convert dates from 1 January to 31 March prior to that year, the number to add or subtract is 542; otherwise, it is 543. Example:
Today, both the Common Era New Year's Day (1 January) and the traditional Thai New Year (สงกรานต์, Songkran) celebrations (13–15 April) are public holidays in Thailand. In the traditional Thai calendar, the change to the next Chinese zodiacal animal occurs at Songkran (now fixed at 13 April.) For Thai Chinese communities in Thailand, however, the Chinese calendar determines the day that a Chinese New Year begins, and assumes the name of the next animal in the twelve-year animal cycle.
Names of the months derive from Hindu astrology names for the signs of the zodiac. Thirty-day-month names end in -ayon (-ายน), from Sanskrit root āyana : the arrival of; 31-day-month names end in -akhom (-าคม), from Sanskrit āgama (cognate to English "come") that also means the arrival of.
February's name ends in -phan (-พันธ์), from Sanskrit bandha : "fettered" or "bound". The day added to February in a solar leap year is Athikasuratin (อธิกสุรทิน, respelled to aid pronunciation (อะทิกะสุระทิน) from Sanskrit adhika : additional; sura : move).
|English name||Thai name||Abbr.||Thai Pronunciation||Sanskrit word||Zodiac sign|
|January||มกราคม||ม.ค.||mákàraa-khom, mókkàraa-khom||makara "sea-monster"||Capricorn|
|February||กุมภาพันธ์||ก.พ.||kumphaa-phan||kumbha "pitcher, water-pot"||Aquarius|
|March||มีนาคม||มี.ค.||miinaa-khom||mīna "(a specific kind of) fish"||Pisces|
|June||มิถุนายน||มิ.ย.||míthùnaa-yon||mithuna "a pair"||Gemini|
|December||ธันวาคม||ธ.ค.||thanwaa-khom||dhanu "bow, arc"||Sagittarius|
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The Siamese year does not commence with the first month, but corresponds with that of the Chinese. In the year 1822, the new year fell on 11 April, being the 5th day of the dark half of the moon.... The Siamese have two epochs, or, as they describe them, Sa-ka-rat. The sacred one dates from the death of Gautama, and the year which commenced on 11 April 1822, was the year 2365, according to this reckoning.
The Siamese have two epochs, sacred and popular. The sacred era dates from the death of Gautama, and the year 1833 corresponded to the 2376 year. The vulgar era was instituted when the worship of Gautama was first introduced; and the year 1833 corresponded with the year 1194, and was the fifth, or Dragon year.
An epoch, for the purposes of chronology and periodization, is an instant in time chosen as the origin of a particular calendar era. The "epoch" serves as a reference point from which time is measured.
A solar calendar is a calendar whose dates indicate the season or almost equivalently the apparent position of the Sun relative to the stars. The Gregorian calendar, widely accepted as standard in the world, is an example of a solar calendar. The main other type of calendar is a lunar calendar, whose months correspond to cycles of Moon phases. The months of the Gregorian calendar do not correspond to cycles of Moon phase.
Songkran is the Thai New Year's national holiday. Songkran is on the 13 April every year, but the holiday period extends from 14 to 15 April. In 2018 the Thai cabinet extended the festival nationwide to five days, 12–16 April, to enable citizens to travel home for the holiday. In 2019, the holiday was observed 12–16 April as 13 April fell on a Saturday. The word "Songkran" comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, literally "astrological passage", meaning transformation or change. The term was borrowed from Makar Sankranti, the name of a Hindu harvest festival celebrated in India in January to mark the arrival of spring. It coincides with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart and with the New Year of many calendars of South and Southeast Asia, in keeping with the Buddhist calendar. The New Year takes place at virtually the same time as the new year celebrations of many countries in South Asia like China, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka.
The Thai lunar calendar, or Tai calendar, is a lunisolar Buddhist calendar. It is used for calculating lunar-regulated holy days. Based on the SuriyaYatra, with likely influence from the traditional Hindu Surya Siddhanta, it has its own unique structure that does not require the Surya Siddhanta to calculate. Lunisolar calendars combine lunar and solar calendars for a nominal year of 12 months. An extra day or an extra 30-day month is intercalated at irregular intervals.
The Hindu calendar refers to a set of various lunisolar calendars that are traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and South-east Asia, with further regional variations for social and Hindu religious purposes. They adopt a similar underlying concept for timekeeping with based on sidereal year for solar cycle and adjustment of lunar cycles in every three years, however also differ in their relative emphasis to moon cycle or the sun cycle and the names of months and when they consider the New Year to start. Of the various regional calendars, the most studied and known Hindu calendars are the Shalivahana Shaka found in South India, Vikram Samvat (Bikrami) found in Nepal North and Central regions of India, Tamil calendar used in Tamil Nadu, and the Bengali calendar used in the Bengal – all of which emphasize the lunar cycle. Their new year starts in spring. In contrast, in regions such as Kerala, the solar cycle is emphasized and this is called the Malayalam calendar, their new year starts in autumn, and these have origins in the second half of the 1st millennium CE. A Hindu calendar is sometimes referred to as Panchanga (पञ्चाङ्ग).
The Buddhist calendar is a set of lunisolar calendars primarily used in mainland Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand as well as in Sri Lanka and Chinese populations of Malaysia and Singapore for religious or official occasions. While the calendars share a common lineage, they also have minor but important variations such as intercalation schedules, month names and numbering, use of cycles, etc. In Thailand, the name Buddhist Era is a year numbering system shared by the traditional Thai lunisolar calendar and by the Thai solar calendar.
Losar is a festival in Tibetan Buddhism. The holiday is celebrated on various dates depending on location tradition. The holiday is a new year's festival, celebrated on the first day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar, which corresponds to a date in February or March in the Gregorian calendar. In 2020, the new year commenced on the 24th of February and celebrations ran until the 26th of the same month. It also commenced the Year of the Male Iron Rat.
The Tibetan calendar is a lunisolar calendar, that is, the Tibetan year is composed of either 12 or 13 lunar months, each beginning and ending with a new moon. A thirteenth month is added every two or three years, so that an average Tibetan year is equal to the solar year.
Vikram Samvat and also known as the Vikrami calendar, is the historical Hindu calendar in the Indian subcontinent. It is the official calendar of Nepal. In India it is used in several states. The calendar uses lunar months and solar sidereal years.
The Tamil calendar is a sidereal Hindu calendar used by the Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. It is also used in Puducherry, and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Tamil Nadu farmers greatly refer to this. It is used today for cultural, religious and agricultural events, with the Gregorian calendar largely used for official purposes both within and outside India. The Tamil calendar is based on the classical Hindu solar calendar also used in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Odisha, Rajasthan and Punjab This shows Hindus are well versed about the planetary movements for ages.
In Thailand, two main calendar systems are used alongside each other: the Thai solar calendar, based on the Gregorian calendar, used for official and most day-to-day purposes, and the Thai lunar calendar, used for traditional events and Buddhist religious practices.
Saura is a term found in Indian religions, and it connotes "sun" (Surya) or anything "solar"-related.
The Burmese calendar is a lunisolar calendar in which the months are based on lunar months and years are based on sidereal years. The calendar is largely based on an older version of the Hindu calendar, though unlike the Indian systems, it employs a version of the Metonic cycle. The calendar therefore has to reconcile the sidereal years of the Hindu calendar with the Metonic cycle's near tropical years by adding intercalary months and days at irregular intervals.
The Chinese zodiac is a classification scheme based on the lunar calendar that assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. The 12-year cycle is an approximation to the 11.85-year orbital period of Jupiter. Originating from China, the zodiac and its variations remain popular in many Asian countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.
Chula Sakarat or Chulasakarat is a lunisolar calendar derived from the Burmese calendar, whose variants were in use by most mainland Southeast Asian kingdoms down to the late 19th century. The calendar is largely based on an older version of the Hindu calendar though unlike the Indian systems, it employs a version of the Metonic cycle. The calendar therefore has to reconcile the sidereal years of the Hindu calendar with Metonic cycle's tropical years by adding intercalary months and intercalary days on irregular intervals.
Songkran is a term derived from the Sanskrit word, saṅkrānti and used to refer to the traditional New Year celebrated in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, parts of northeast India, parts of Vietnam and Xishuangbanna, China. It begins when the sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, as reckoned by sidereal astrology. It is related to the equivalent Hindu calendar-based New Year festivals in most parts of South Asia which are collectively referred to as Mesha Sankranti.
Siṃha is one of the twelve months in the Indian solar calendar.
Kanyā is one of the twelve months in the Indian solar calendar.
Tulā is one of the twelve months in the Indian solar calendar.
Mesha Sankranti refers to the first day of the solar cycle year, that is the solar New Year in the Hindu luni-solar calendar. The Hindu calendar also has a lunar new year, which is religiously more significant, and falls on different dates in the Amanta and Purinamanta systems prevalent across the Indian subcontinent. The solar cycle year is significant in Odia, Punjabi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Bengali calendars.