The Lunar Calendar and Some other Aspects of Thai Time
For beginners, the lunar calendar can be quite difficult to understand, but it is important to us here because it is used to determine religious events and observations. The lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon. Each complete cycle is 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes long, which is the time it takes for the moon to complete its orbit around the Earth. Each month begins on the first day of the waxing moon (wan khun 1 kham) and continues until the middle of the month — the full moon — which occurs on the fifteenth day (wan khun 15 kham). The waning moon is then counted from 1 to 15 beginning with ram 1 kham, until the new moon is reached.
Alternate months have either 29 or 30 days, so the last day (wan dap) is either called wan ram 15 kham or wan ram 14 kham. In order to keep it synchronized with the seasons, an extra month is added every two or three years. Wan phra are special holy days that fall on the 8th, 15th, 23rd, and 29th or 30th day of the lunar month.
wan phra or wan ubosot (uposatha): Buddhist holy days that fall on the 8th, 15th, 23rd, and 29th or 30th day of the lunar month (that is, wan khun 8 kham, wan khun 15 kham (full moon), wan ram 8 kham, and wan dap (the last day of the lunar month). These are days of special observance of the precepts and contemplation of the Dhamma. Buddhist laypeople observe the 8 precepts (3 more than normal — see Aspect dealing with the Precepts). Also, on the days of the full moon and last day of the lunar month (wan phen and wan dap), monks recite the Patimokkha (227 Rules of the Order).
|The Year of the Rat||Pi Chuat|
|The Year of the Ox (Bull)||Pi Chalu|
|The Year of the Tiger||Pi Khan|
|The Year of the Rabbit (Hare)||Pi Tho|
|The Year of the Dragon (Big Snake)||Pi Marong|
|The Year of the Snake||Pi Maseng|
|The Year of the Horse||Pi Mamia|
|The Year of the Goat||Pi Mamae|
|The Year of the Monkey||Pi Wok|
|The Year of the Rooster (Cock)||Pi Raka|
|The Year of the Dog||Pi Cho|
|The Year of the Pig||Pi Kun|
Buddhist Era (B.E.): The official year in Thailand is counted from the death of the Buddha. The year the Buddha passed away is 0 B.E. To convert from A.D. to B.E., one can generally add 543. For example, the year 2000 A.D. would be 2543 B.E. in Thailand. Although the Buddhist Era dates are widely used, most people are aware of the Gregorian dates. In neighboring India, Sri Lanka, and Burma the date of the Buddha’s passing is counted as 1 B.E., however in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia it is counted as 0 B.E.