December 5th is the birthday of His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand and the longest-serving monarch in the world.
The King’s Birthday in Thailand is celebrated vividly with fireworks, a candle ceremony, and a chance to see a flash of the King as he speeds by in his motorcade. Throngs crowd the streets to wave flags, socialize, and to enjoy spectacular fireworks in honour of their king.
Most Thais find any negative opinion of the King unthinkable, and with good reason. King Bhumibol Adulyadej is Thailand’s longest-reigning monarch, and his accomplishments have earned him his subjects’ undying affection and loyalty.
Unlike many royals around the world, the King has actively committed himself to improving his subjects’ lives, traveling to the furthest reaches of his kingdom to talk to his poorer subjects and find solutions for their woes. Throughout his reign, the King has accumulated a long list of royal nation-building projects ranging in scope from health to agriculture to education. The nation has returned the King’s dedication in kind.
The King and Queen are viewed as symbols of Thai national identity: their portraits adorn almost every home and office building, their birthdays are national holidays and people voluntarily wear yellow on Monday to honour the day of the week when the King was born.
The King’s Birthday is also Father’s Day, so most businesses close and families are given some time together away from the daily grind. If attending the King’s Birthday celebration in Bangkok, be sure to wear yellow or gold — the colors of the monarchy. Some people choose to wear pink, the color of the Queen.
What many people don’t know is that His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej — known in Thailand as King Rama IX or Wan Chalerm — was actually born in the United States. The King was born on December 5, 1927, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He later finished his education in Switzerland and was crowned the King of Thailand on June 9, 1946.
The name Bhumibol Adulyadej means “Strength of the Land
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