Every December 2nd in Laos is the country’s National Day. It is a public holiday which commemorates the creation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in the year of 1975. The holiday provides citizens with the opportunity to celebrate their country’s history and their present independence through festivities and a day of rest.
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The Recent History of Laos
Laos is commonly called Muang Lao. It is a country that is landlocked by Myanmar and China to its northwest, Vietnam to its east, Cambodia to its south, and Thailand to its west. The modern country of Laos is closely connected to the Kingdom of Lan Xang Hom Khao (also known as the “Kingdom of a Million Elephants Under the White Parasol”). For about four centuries, this kingdom was one of the largest in Southeast Asia. The kingdom was also a hub for trading as it had a central locations in Southeast Asia. This trade helped develop the culture to the region now referred to as Laos.
Laos and many neighbouring countries saw significant political change during the 20th century. Although the Kingdom of Laos was, during the First Indochina War in 1947, officially proclaimed, the country made steps towards full independence in 1953 as a constitutional monarchy. This decision led to a civil war between the communist political movement of Pathet Lao (“The Lao People”) and the Royal Lao Government. The Laotian Civil War would last for more than two decades and include North and South Vietnam, Thailand, and the United States.
Although the Paris Peace Accords of 1973 attempted to stop the fighting, the ceasefire was broken in 1975 by the Pathet Lao. On December 2nd of that year, the King Savang Vatthana was forcibly abdicated, allowing for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to be proclaimed. The National Day celebrates this proclamation. With the creation of a Republic, Prince Souphanouvong Thao was also sworn into Presidency.
Celebrating Lao National Day in Laos
The National Day in Laos is celebrated extensively across the country. There are numerous parades, some ceremonies, and even formal speeches. These festivities often include the use of red flags bearing a hammer and a sickle. A new flag has also been introduced to the country which includes the colours blue, white, and red. The red is meant to symbolise blood that has been shed for the country’s independence, blue symbolises the country’s health (also known as “Makong”), and the white disc-shaped emblem on the country’s modern flag represents the moon over the “Mekong” (the country’s unity) under the Communist government. You will likely see a number of these flags if you plan to visit Laos during this time. Some of the biggest cities with celebrations for the National Day include:
- Vientiane: The largest city in Laos and its capital, this city is located on the Mekong River.
- Paske: This is the second largest city in Laos, located in the souther province of Champasak.
- Savannakhet: Also known as Kaysone Phomvihane (and previously known as Khanthabouli), this city is the third largest in Laos and is the capital of the Savannakhet Province.
Laos is a beautiful country with many large cities and rivers. This Asian country comes with a rich history and a recent secure on a reformed government. Wherever you plan to be on December 2nd while in Laos, you can expect to find some enthusiastic celebration of this part of history that has occurred during the lives of so many of its citizens. Find yourself a parade and be sure to partake in the celebrations!
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