Cambodia celebrates New Year’s Day with a public holiday every 1 January, as does most of the rest of the world. However, the celebrations really begin on New Year’s Eve and reach a high point with the turning of the clock from 11:59pm on 31 December to midnight on 1 January.
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New Year’s Day is a time of resolutions and starting fresh for some, while for others it is spent recovering from a big, late night spent with friends and family.
Cambodia has two New Year’s Day celebrations each year. The traditional Khmer New Year is observed for three consecutive days in mid-April, while the country will also observe 1 January with much of the rest of Asia and the world.
Khmer New Year marks the end of the traditional harvest season and has many religious overtones. People will visit temples, give offerings to deceased ancestors, and offer sacrifices to traditional Khmer gods and goddesses.
Gregorian New Year’s, by contrast, if 100 percent secular in nature. It has a more modern feel to it and involves more recently adopted traditions that came from overseas. Fireworks, midnight countdowns and parties are all elements of how the holiday is celebrated. In Cambodian hotels and restaurants that cater to tourists, the Western feel of the holiday is even more overt.