Best places to travel to on a full moon

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There are many good reasons to travel, but perhaps you never thought that a full moon could be one of them. Unlike most Western countries that use the Gregorian calendar, there are other civilizations and cultures that use a lunar or lunisolar calendar instead, marking many of their festivities and celebrations according to the phases of the moon — particularly the full moon. This and other interesting cultural difference, along with the fact that this is probably the time when people feel the most cheerful and carefree, make for a very good excuse to visit certain places around the globe and join the fun!

Here’s a list of festivals falling on a full moon day:

January’s Full Moon — January 21, 2019

  • Duruthu Perahera: Buddhist festival in Sri Lanka on the first moon of the year; celebrations begin 2 days before full moon day
    In Sri Lanka every full moon (called Poya day in Sinhala language) is celebrated countrywide: people visit the Buddhist temples, shops and businesses are closed, meat and alcohol are not sold, and locals offered home made food to the passerby. But from all the full moon days, the first one is without a doubt the most celebrated one

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February’s Full Moon— February 19, 2019

  • Thaipusam: Hindu festival celebrated by Tamil communities in India and Sri Lanka, but also in Mauritius, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore
    Processions of devotees flood the streets performing elaborate ceremonies, some of them rather gory, with spears piercing through tongue or cheeks — indeed not for the faint-hearted full-moon-festival

March’s Full Moon — March 21, 2019

  • Holi: Hindu festival celebrated in India and among Indian communities worldwide
    Probably the greatest festival in India, this is when friends and strangers from all strata of society come out to the streets to engage in fair game with coloured water and dry power — frolic and joy unleashes everywhere where music and dance are undoubtedly present throughout

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April’s Full Moon (blue moon) — April 19, 2019

  • Māgha Pūjā: Buddhist festival celebrated in Myanmar and Thailand

In Myanmar, although primarily celebrated by monks at the main Pagoda in Yangon, it coincides with the Pa’O (one of the main ethnic groups in Myanmar) National Day

In Thailand, every Buddhist temple holds candlelight processions on the evening of the full moon day

  • Mahavir Jayanti: Jain festival in Gujarat (India); celebration begins 2 days before full moon day
    Although rather austere when compared to other Hindu festivals, it’s still very interesting to see the rituals and processions around the Jain shrines in India

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May’s Full Moon — May 18, 2019

  • Bun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival): cultural festival in Thailand and Laos; celebrated around full moon day (May 3 to 7, 2019)
  • Although celebrated countrywide, the biggest celebrations are staged in Yaothon (Thailand), with its popular parade featuring ornamented floats, folk dances and plenty of music. And of course the launching of rockets into the sky indicating that the wet season is near

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June’s Full Moon — June 17, 2019

  • Sister’s Meal Festival: cultural festival in Shidong (China); celebrated 1 day before full moon day
    The main event of this festival is the courting ritual that takes place between young Miao girls and men who come hoping to serenade the woman they wish to marry. Along with this there are plenty of other activities, making it one of the most important festivals for the Miao people
  • Vesak: Buddhist festival celebrated worldwide among Buddhist communities, but mainly in countries from South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent

In Nepal (known as Buddha Jayanti), pilgrims from around the country come together at one of the main temples in Lumbini (the birthplace of Buddha)
In Sri Lanka, the display of electrical lit marquees and colourful lanterns decorate the streets of Colombo, the capital. And free food and drink (non-alcoholic) are distributed by Buddhist devotees
In Malaysia and Indonesia (known as Wesak), monks join in procession circling the temples while transporting flames and repeating mantras
In Tibet (known as Saga Dawa), the long trumpets are loudly blown and the old prayer flagpole (Tarboche) is taken down for a new one to be erected in its place. Monasteries and temples (including the Potala Palace) receive many visitors coming to pray

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July’s Full Moon — July 16, 2019

  • Asalha Puja: Buddhist festival worldwide, widely celebrated in Thailand (known as Asanha Bucha) and Indonesia
    Most of the celebrations take place at monasteries and temples, where monks circle them while carrying lighted candles and reciting prayers

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October’s Full Moon — October 13, 2019

  • Dashain: Hindu-Buddhist festival in Nepal; celebrations begin 15 days before full moon day (September 30 to October 8, 2019), which marks its ending
    On the 10th day of the festival elders follow a very particular rite to bless the younger relatives with abundance in the upcoming year. Probably the biggest celebration in the country along with Diwali

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November’s Full Moon — November 12, 2019

  • Perang Topat (Rice Cake War): cultural Hindu-Muslim festival in Lombok (Indonesia)
    Every year a three-day war between two religious groups of the same village (Lingsar) takes place. And unlike any other war, here no weapons are used, only sticky rice balls. And not to hurt or kill each other but to foster closer relations and harvest cultural understanding among them
  • Loi Krathong (River Festival): cultural festival celebrated in Thailand and certain parts of Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar
    Fireworks and home-made rafts are sent off on the rivers right after making a wish. But perhaps the most visual of all traditions is the launching of thousand of rice-paper sky lanterns into the sky to celebrate the Yi Peng festival (literally “full moon day”). This festival taking place the same day is widely celebrated in Chiang Mai (Thailand)

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December’s Full Moon — December 12, 2019

  • Fire Festival (Bugum Chugu): cultural festival in the northern regions of Ghana; celebrated 4 days before full moon day
    A festival of Islamic origins celebrated by the Dagomba people who dressed like warriors carry fire torches and swords while dancing dance and chanting to the rhythm of the drumming
  • Incwala Ceremony: cultural festival in Swaziland; celebrated over a month and culminating on the 4th day after full moon day
    A series of rituals honouring the King of Swaziland. The main events are staged in Lobamba, the capital

Besides all the events marked by those shining full moon nights, there are also some festivals happening on new moon days, here are the ones not to be missed:

February’s New Moon — February 4, 2019

  • Chun Jie (Chinese New Year): cultural festival celebrated in China, Vietnam , Korea, Singapore and in other regions with significant Chinese communities
    Plenty of food for the most important time of the year for families reunited and of course an insane amount of fireworks and firecrackers countrywide

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March’s New Moon — March 6, 2019

  • Nyepi (Balinese New Year): Hindu festival in Bali (Indonesia)
    The actual day of Nyepi is in fact a “Day of Silence” use solely for fasting and meditation by Balinese people. But the eve prior to the festival there is a major parade called Ogoh Ogoh that won’t leave you indifferent. And the next day, in Banjar Kaja Sesetan, a procession of unmarried youths takes place. Here, male participants might pull and kiss the female participants, while other villagers pour water over them – possibly to cool their heated passion down

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October’s New Moon — October 28, 2019

  • Diwali: Hindu / Jain / Sikh festival celebrated in India, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and in other regions with significant Indian communities
    Rangoli decorations and lighted candles are present everywhere to celebrate the victory of light over darkness

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Lastly, almost every year the universe offers us the opportunity to witness some type of eclipse depending on where we are located. Such a great spectacle must be witnessed at lest once in a lifetime:

  • Partial Solar Eclipse:

January 5, 2019 — visible in east Asia and Pacific ocean

  • Total Solar Eclipse:

July 2, 2019 — visible in south of North America, South America and Pacific ocean

  • Annular Solar Eclipse:

December 26, 2019 — visible in east Europe, Asia, north-west Australia, east Africa and Pacific and Indian oceans

  • Partial Lunar Eclipse:

July 16, 2019 — visible in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, south-east North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans and Antartica

  • Total Lunar Eclipse:

January 20, 2019 — visible in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans and Arctic

We hope all this inspires you to travel even more this year without going moony over travels 😉

Happy travels!

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