Celebrating Cambodian New Year

Alyson Chan, Writer/Social Media

KNY Event (Alyson Chan)

Cambodian New Year, also known as Khmer (kuh-mehr) New Year, is a traditional and national holiday celebrated by the Cambodian community. It is a three-day-long celebration dedicated to welcoming the new year, appreciating the religion, and honoring our ancestors and elders.


Photo by Alyson Chan

Cambodian New Year occurs in the month of April, starting on the 14th through the 16th of the month. From experience, as a half-Cambodian and half-Vietnamese person, I have learned so much about our unique tradition and why we respect it. During the three-day-long celebration, there are usually events that take place at local temples where people come to pray and be blessed by monks. Also, there are traditional Cambodian performances with dancers and singers, as well as Cambodian street food and merchandise sold by small businesses. These events are arranged for everyone to come and appreciate Cambodian culture.



From my personal experience of celebrating my culture, my family and I will attend these events to show support and appreciation for this tradition. It is a way for all of us to meet new people and celebrate as a loving community. According to EthnoMed.org, each of the three days has its own special name and concept. The first day of the new year is called Moha Sangkran. It is where people light incense sticks at shrines and set out fruit and canned drinks to pray and welcome the New Angels that visit every new year to give their blessing. 

Photo by Alyson Chan

The second day of the new year is called Vireak Vanabat. During this time, people give out donations of money or clothes to those who need them, as well as visit a temple to pray for blessings from their ancestors. The third day of the new year, called Leung Sakk, is when statues of the Buddha are washed with perfumed water as a sign of the last official ceremony of the Cambodian New Year. From this performance, it symbolizes washing away any negativity and mistakes made in the family and to start off fresh for the new year. 

Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP (AFP)

This three-day event dedicated to Khmer New Year is a way for the Cambodian community to connect and express their culture. It revolves around gaining new luck, happiness, and peace for the new year while enjoying traditional food, dances, songs, and dressing up in traditional clothing.