by Sela Mao, Children’s Future Communications Associate

Khmer (Cambodian) New Year is always celebrated for three days in April, this year from April 14-16, according to the Buddhist calendar. The three days are as follows; Moha Sangkran, Virak Wanibat, and lastly Virak Loeurng Sak, and each day has its own special activities. On the first day, people dress up, light candles and burn incense to pray for a year filled with happiness. They prepare fruits, drinks and flowers to sacrifice to the angel of the new year. The second day and third day are similar in terms of activities; the days are filled with pagoda visits, food preparation, preparing offerings for dead ancestors and also respecting elders.

Tradition is kept alive for every New Year. The popular food items for the holiday include: caramelized pork, chicken curry and vermicelli noodles. There are also a lot of traditional Khmer games to play such as the hand-scarf throwing game, Cambodian pinata game, tug-of-war, and also a Khmer version of duck-duck-goose. Cambodians also throw water at each other at home and in the streets as a way to have fun this time of year. At night, there is traditional dancing such as Rorm Vong (circle dancing), Rorm Khbach (slow dance), and a Khmer-style Madison dance.

Every Khmer New Year, Children’s Future arranges a party for the children and staff to celebrate together. A journalism student states, “On Khmer New Year, after my family and I came back from the pagoda, I came to Children’s Future and celebrated with all of my friends and teachers. I was very excited and happy to meet them”. Although Khmer New Year is a fun time, staff members remind children to always stay safe because there are many risky factors this time of year, with much more traffic and drinking than usual throughout the country.

All in all, Khmer New Year is a fun time and is a wonderful celebration that helps children relax and take their minds off of their studies. Some children even take this time to visit the pagodas to wish for longevity, good health, good luck, happiness, prosperity and success in their studies. Cambodia is filled with tradition and we will continue to honor this time of year by celebrating with our children. From our loving staff and wonderful children, we would like to wish you a happy Khmer New Year!