It Will Never Expire: Understanding the Thai Calendar

Craving that pad thai or green curry again? Why? Thai food is so common these days, you can find Thai cuisine — or even ready-made meals–  all over the place.

But it’s good, too, right? It’s all subjective, of course … if you like it (as I certainly do), perhaps the mere mention of eating something from Thailand momentarily transports you to an exotic land, where mango sticky rice trucks are on every street corner, Thai iced tea flows out of apartment faucets, and butterfly pea’s coloring and binomial nomenclature never goes out of style.

And where food doesn’t expire.

Caffa Lemon Tea Understanding Thai Calendars
I think time will outlast the package itself

Wow, now there’s an expiration date I can get behind. Not only will it outlast me by a loooong shot, but also most living things, most dead things, and even a French transportation strike, but not term limits in the U.S. Congress. You can’t win ’em all.

Jokes aside, let’s dissect the date of expiry on the Caffa Coffeemaker package.

First, let’s get the obvious out of the way for my fellow U.S. folk– January 29th. That’s how the majority of the world does it, day, month, year. OK, I feel very sheepish now (At least we’re making slow progress on the metric system).

Now, the fun part, the year.
Short answer? To calculate the “Western” aka Gregorian year, subtract 543 from the Thai year.
For example, to comprehend the year in the above photo–
2566 – 543 = 2023.
Darn, I thought that lemon tea would’ve had a bit more staying power!

Slightly longer answer? {insert current year here} + 543 dates back to the time when Thai Buddhists consider Buddha to have attained enlightenment, or nirvana.

Fast-forward quite a lot to 1888 or 1889, when King Chulalangkorn (King Rama V) introduced the Gregorian calendar to Siam (the former name of Thailand), but with Buddhist elements. So, from a lunar calendar to solar calendar lite. That is, one with lunar calendar elements.

At the time, New Year’s Day was on 1 April, then 13 April, but that all finally changed in 1941, when King Ananda Mahidol (King Rama VIII) made New Year’s Day 1 January, aligning Thailand’s calendar with the Gregorian.

However, as I eluded to before, there are still some lunar calendar elements in the modern Thai calendar (and no matter which you own, no food — ok, maybe Spam — will last that long). Wan phra, “monk day” in Thai, are roughly four days per month where Thai Buddhists would visit temples to provide food for monks. These days are based on the four principal quarter phases — new moon, 1st quarter, full moon, 3rd/last quarter — of the moon.

And before you ask, yes, I do know that this is a food blog.
So … go get a moon pie or something.


You may now know how to understand Thai calendars, but let’s none of us forget to inspect the expiry dates no matter where in the world we are!

Author: NoWorkAndAllTravel

Wordpressing about food and languages at FindingFoodFluency.com, and about travel news and attractions at NoWorkAndAllTravel.wordpress.com

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