Celebrate Cambodian New Year Together

Did you know that Cambodian New Year, also known as Khmer (pronounced Kh-MY) New Year is the traditional celebration of the solar new year? This amazing three-day celebration begins on April 13 this year. The occasion, originally celebrated in winter, was moved to April in the 1200s by the Khmer King during the Angkor Era. 

The solar new year calendar begins in April because November to March are the busiest months for farmers, marking the end of harvest.  

Each day of the celebration is marked with different traditions. On the first day, Moha Sangkranta, people may clean and decorate their homes and dress respectfully to ensure the new year starts on a good note. The second day, Veareak Vanabat, is family-focused: Gifts are given to parents, grandparents and other elders showing gratitude and affection. On the third day, called “Veareak Laeung Saka,” the Khmer people come to seek the blessings of monks, and light incense to wish prosperity and joy to family and friends. 

Khmer New Year Traditions 

The sampot, worn by both men and women, is the most commonly worn garment for celebrations. The sampot comes in a variation of vibrant colors and brocade designs. The kroma, a colorful checkered scarf is tied around a man's waist or neck and used as a belt for women (it holds up their sampot).  

One celebrated game is Chol Chhoung—two teams, typically one of boys and one of girls, stand in rows opposite each other. The “chhoung,” (a tied scarf) is tossed between them. Once a player catches it, they quickly aim it at someone they like in the opposite row for them to catch.

Gifts are traditionally given to parents and elders on Veareak Vanabat (the second day) of the Cambodian New Year. Fruit baskets symbolize wealth and well-being. Sweets signify harmony and joy. New clothes represent revitalization and success. 

Delicious food is served in celebration of Cambodian New Year. These dishes are not only for the living but also an offering of gratitude to ancestors. Some traditional food served:   

  • Amok Trey – fish curry, considered one of Cambodia’s national dishes 
  • Nom Ansom – sweet or savory sticky rice cake 
  • Ya Hon – traditional hot pot 

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Celebrate Cambodian New Year!

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