Everything You Need To Know About The King's Birthday In December

Giant statue at the Emerald Buddha Temple, Bangkok, Thailand
Giant statue at the Emerald Buddha Temple, Bangkok, Thailand | © PIVISO
Kelly Iverson

If you ever take a gander at Thailand’s jam-packed calendar, you will find that almost every other day Thai people are celebrating something. From full moons to vegetarian food, Thais are always finding reasons to pay tribute and party. The king’s birthday is no exception, and this year’s celebrations might play out differently due to the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej this past October. Here is everything you need to know about the late king’s birthday.


The holiday celebrating the king’s birthday in Thailand is held annually on December 5, which is the late king’s birthday. The holiday is also observed as Thailand’s National Father’s Day and National Day. This year, the holiday falls on a Monday. Since 1946, King Bhumibol Adulyadej ruled in Thailand. The day is usually a picturesque event in cities across the country, with buildings and schools decorated with photographs of the king.

Grand Palace

Those who have visited Thailand might have noticed that Thais oftentimes wear similar colors to one another; this is no fashion mishap. Depending on the day of the week, many Thai people will wear a particular color in hopes of having good luck in accordance to Thai astrology. On Monday, Thai people wear yellow. This is also King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s color because he was born on a Monday. It is for this reason that the color yellow overtakes the streets of Thailand on Father’s Day, specifically the Grand Palace, where people will decorate the grounds with marigolds in his name.

Marigold offerings at Wat Traimit

When the king passed away, hundreds of people gathered outside of the hospital he was at in Bangkok wearing bright yellow attire, praying and hoping for a speedy recovery. Sadly, this was not the outcome.

HM the Thai King

Past Celebrations

The king’s birthday is one of the most celebrated holidays of the entire year. In previous years, Thai people have gone to great lengths to decorate and celebrate this national holiday. Homes, buildings and public places are decorated with lights, and many Thai people will take part in a candle lighting tradition. This ceremony pays tribute to the king, and Thais across the country come together with their families to honor King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Candles at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

However, this year might be different. Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej diedat the age of 88 on October 13, 2016. He was the world’s longest-reigning monarch and was in power for 70 years. The death of the king came as a great loss for the people of Thailand, many of whom were born during his era and have not known any other ruler. Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn is set to become the new king of Thailand on December 1, 2016, according to a BBC article.

THAILAND – Royal Family – 2007

What does this mean for the holiday? Immediately after the passing of the king, the country went into a state of mourning that is scheduled to last for an entire year. There was also a strict month-long ban against large parties and celebrations.

We Love Thailand

Sanam Luang has been a popular destination for Thais across the country to congregate for this holiday. Sanam Luang is the green space and park located just north of the Grand Palace. Many Thais will bike in honor of the king. Some of the events are more ceremonious and are in the form of actual races, while other Thais simply strap on a helmet and pay their respects while riding their bikes, especially around the Chitralada Palace area. No information has been released as to whether or not the same amount of festivities will take place this year in honor of Thailand’s National Father’s Day and National Day. There are a few reasons to believe, however, that some processions and celebrations will be taking place this year. The last holiday Thailand celebrated was Loy Krathong, and there were still plenty of Thais and foreigners alike participating and having a good holiday.

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