King's Birthday (Wan Chalerm)
If the usual Father’s Day is celebrated every second week of June in most countries, Father’s Day in Thailand just like Mother’s Day, is observed during the birthday of their monarch, King Rama IX or Wan Chalem.
Born Bhumibol Adulyadej, His Majesty became the King of Thailand on June 9, 1946 after the death of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol.
He is now the longest serving monarch in the world, born in 1927 in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. He later on finished his studies in Switzerland and formally crowned as king May 5, 1950.
However, in 1948, the King met an accident. He hit the back of a truck that cost him his right eyesight. But from this accident he met and won his Queen—the daughter of Thai ambassador to France at that time—and helped him to recover from the misfortune.
It is believed that His Majesty King has a very crucial role in Thai politics, especially Thailand’s transition to democracy in the 1990’s. He is loved and honored by many Thais because of his immersion with Thais’ poorest communities back when he was younger. He is considered as ‘inviolable’ and deemed as ‘almost divine’.
His Majesty King’s birthday celebration is a three-in-one festivity: his birthday, Thailand’s national day and Father’s day. December 5 is considered as the biggest event of the year where people break from their everyday routines and celebrate the day of the King, the heart and soul of Thailand.
Buildings and houses all over the country are decorated with flags, photographs of His Majesty and other embellishments—mostly color yellow—the color of the King. The center of the celebration is in the Royal residence, around the Grand Palace and the Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok.
The preparation for the holiday starts weeks before the day itself. Thousands of golden marigolds and colorful lights beautify the streets. There will be parades and exhibits around the capital city, Bangkok, in honor of His Majesty King’s life.
December 5 is also a banking holiday, all banks and establishments are closed to give way to the celebration. Some main streets to the Palace, like the Ratchadamnoen and Sanam Luang, are also closed because of the people celebrating and also the traffic. The party will commence at night where a big picture of His Majesty King will be paraded along the venue as scenic firework displays light up the sky with people rejoicing for the day of their King.