Diving into Bhutan National Holiday

Let’s talk about Bhutan National Holiday. Bhutan, known as the “Land of Happiness,” is a small Himalayan kingdom nestled between India and China. The country has a rich cultural heritage and celebrates various national holidays throughout the year. One such significant holiday is the Bhutan National Holiday, observed on December 17th. In this article, we will delve into the importance of this holiday, the celebrations, cultural traditions, and its impact on Bhutanese society.

Significance of Bhutan National Holiday

National holidays hold immense cultural, historical, and religious significance in Bhutan. They provide an opportunity for the Bhutanese people to honor their traditions, strengthen their national identity, and foster a sense of pride and belonging. These holidays are deeply ingrained in the fabric of Bhutanese society and reflect the country’s values and heritage.

The Celebration of Bhutan National Holiday

The Bhutan National Holiday on December 17th is a day of great importance and joy for the Bhutanese people. It commemorates the establishment of Bhutan as a unified nation under the leadership of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1907. The celebration brings together people from all walks of life to express their love for the country and its rich history.

Cultural Festivities

During the Bhutan National Holiday, the country comes alive with vibrant cultural festivities. Traditional dances, known as cham dances, are performed by masked dancers in colorful costumes. These dances depict stories from Bhutanese mythology and are accompanied by mesmerizing music and chants. The festivities create an atmosphere of joy and unity, where locals and tourists alike can immerse themselves in Bhutan’s rich cultural heritage.

Traditional Attire

On this auspicious day, Bhutanese people proudly don their traditional attire. Men wear the “Gho,” a knee-length robe tied at the waist, while women wear the “Kira,” an ankle-length dress with a colorful woven belt. The traditional attire symbolizes the preservation of Bhutanese identity and is an integral part of the celebrations during the national holiday.

Religious Observances

Bhutan is predominantly Buddhist, and religious observances are an integral part of the Bhutan National Holiday. People visit monasteries and temples to offer prayers, light butter lamps, and seek blessings for the well-being of the nation. The spiritual aspect of the holiday fosters a sense of harmony and peace among the Bhutanese people.

Festive Food and Drinks

No celebration is complete without delicious food and drinks, and the Bhutan National Holiday is no exception. Traditional Bhutanese cuisine takes center stage, with dishes like “Ema Datshi” (chili and cheese stew) and “Momos” (steamed dumplings) being enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. These mouthwatering delicacies showcase the flavors and culinary traditions of Bhutan, adding to the festive spirit of the holiday.

Historical Background

To understand the significance of the Bhutan National Holiday, it is essential to delve into the historical background of Bhutan. The unification of Bhutan as a nation dates back to the early 17th century when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, a Tibetan Buddhist lama, unified the country under his leadership. His efforts laid the foundation for a unified Bhutanese state.

The Unification of Bhutan

Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal’s vision and leadership played a pivotal role in uniting the warring factions of Bhutan and establishing a centralized authority. His unification efforts resulted in the formation of a distinct Bhutanese identity and the preservation of Bhutan’s unique cultural heritage. The Bhutan National Holiday commemorates this historic achievement.

Establishing National Holidays

The establishment of national holidays in Bhutan took place during the reign of the third king, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, in the mid-20th century. The king introduced a series of reforms to modernize Bhutan while safeguarding its cultural heritage. The introduction of national holidays aimed to strengthen the bonds between the people and the nation, fostering unity and patriotism.

The Importance of Bhutan National Holiday

December 17th holds tremendous significance as it marks the historic day when Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal was enthroned as the first leader of a unified Bhutan. This day symbolizes the unity, sovereignty, and independence of Bhutan as a nation. It serves as a reminder of the country’s rich history and the struggles faced in achieving national unity.

How Bhutan Celebrates

Bhutanese people celebrate the National Holiday with great enthusiasm and pride. Festivities begin with ceremonial rituals at various monasteries and temples, where religious leaders offer prayers and blessings for the well-being of the nation. The celebrations then extend to the streets, where cultural performances, parades, and traditional games take place. The atmosphere is filled with joy, laughter, and a deep sense of patriotism.


In conclusion, the Bhutan National Holiday on December 17th is a time of great joy, cultural celebration, and national pride in Bhutan. The festivities, cultural traditions, and historical significance make it a unique experience for both Bhutanese people and visitors from around the world. By commemorating this holiday, Bhutan reaffirms its commitment to preserving its heritage, unity, and the pursuit of happiness.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Is the Bhutan National Holiday a public holiday?

Yes, the Bhutan National Holiday on December 17th is a public holiday in Bhutan. It is a day of national significance and is widely celebrated across the country.

  • Are tourists allowed to participate in the celebrations?

Absolutely! Tourists are welcomed to join the festivities and experience the cultural traditions during the Bhutan National Holiday. It offers a unique opportunity to witness Bhutan’s rich heritage firsthand.

  • What are some other national holidays celebrated in Bhutan?

Bhutan celebrates several other national holidays, including the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the King, Constitution Day, and Coronation Day, among others. Each holiday holds its own cultural and historical significance.

  • How can I best prepare for visiting Bhutan during the National Holiday?

It is advisable to plan your trip well in advance, as the holiday season attracts a high number of visitors. Make sure to book accommodations and travel arrangements in advance to secure your spot.

  • What are some recommended souvenirs to bring back from Bhutan?

Bhutan is known for its exquisite handicrafts, traditional textiles, and intricate artwork. Handwoven fabrics, hand-carved wooden items, and Bhutanese paintings are popular choices for unique souvenirs.


  • Karma Phuntsho. (2013). The History of Bhutan. Random House India.
  • Ura, K., Alkire, S., Zangmo, T., & Wangdi, K. (2012). A Short Guide to Gross National Happiness Index. Centre for Bhutan Studies.
  • Wangchuk, D. (2013). Historical Background of National Holidays in Bhutan. Journal of Bhutan Studies, 28, 1-17.

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