Indian Arts and Culture Buddhism When Is Buddha's Birthday? Varying Dates and Many Forms of Celebration Share Flipboard Email Print Buddhism Origins and Developments Figures and Texts Becoming A Buddhist Tibetan and Vajrayana Buddhism By Barbara O'Brien Zen Buddhism Expert B.J., Journalism, University of Missouri Barbara O'Brien is a Zen Buddhist practitioner who studied at Zen Mountain Monastery. She is the author of "Rethinking Religion" and has covered religion for The Guardian, Tricycle.org, and other outlets. our editorial process Barbara O'Brien Updated March 12, 2018 On what day is Buddha's birthday? That's simple. Just calculate the first full moon day of the sixth month of the Buddhist lunar calendar, which would be the fourth month of the Chinese calendar, except in years in which there's an extra full moon, and then Buddha's birthday falls in the seventh month. Well, except where it starts a week earlier. And in Tibet it's usually a month later. Oh, and in Japan, Buddha's birthday always is April 8. Or, you could follow the guide below. For more about how Buddha's birthday is celebrated, see "Buddha's Birthday." For dates for the current year, see the Buddhist Holiday Calendar. Buddha's Birthday in South Korea These costumed ladies are taking part in the gala Buddha's Birthday parade and pageant held annually in Seoul, South Korea. © Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images In South Korea, Buddha's birthday is a gala weeklong celebration that ends on the first full moon day of the lunar month Vesakha, which usually falls in May. This full moon day is the most commonly observed date for Buddha's birthday. Dates for upcoming Buddha's birthdays are: 2017: May 32018: May 222019: May 12 Throughout South Korea, city streets and temples are decorated with lanterns. At Jogyesa Temple in Seoul, the first day begins with religious ceremonies followed by a street fair near the temple. In the evening a gala lantern parade stretches for miles through the heart of Seoul. Buddha's Birthday in Southeast Asia: Vesak (Buddha Day) simonlong Getty Images Theravada is the dominant form of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), and Laos. Theravadins combine observance of Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and death into one holiday, called Vesak, Visakha, or Wesak, and sometimes Buddha Day. Vesak is the most holy day of the year for Theravada Buddhists, marked by visits to temples, candlelight processions, and observance of Uposatha Precepts. Dates for upcoming Vesak observances are as follows: 2017: May 102018: May 21 or 222019: May 19 For more about this holiday see "Vesak." Buddha's Birthday in Tibet: Saga Dawa Duchen Pilgrims pray at the Thousand Buddhas Hill near Lhasa, Tibet, during Saka Dawa. China Photos/Getty Images Saga Dawa is the entire fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, which usually begins in May and ends in June. The seventh day of Saga Dawa is the date of the historical Buddha's birth for Tibetans. However, the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and entry into Nirvana at his death are observed together on the 15th day of Saga Dawa, called Saga Dawa Duchen. This is the single most important holiday for Tibetan Buddhism, usually observed with pilgrimages and other visits to temples and shrines. 2017: June 92018: May 292019: May 18 Buddha's Birthday in Japan Alvis Upitis/Stockbyte/Getty Images In Japan, Buddha's birthday is called Hanamatsuri or “Flower Festival." On this day people bring fresh flowers to temples in remembrance of the Buddha's birth in a grove of blossoming trees. In Japan, the Buddha's birthday is observed every year on April 8. Buddha's Birthday in China and Elsewhere Krzysztof Dydynski Getty In most of China and most other parts of Asia, Buddha's birthday coincides with the dates for Vesak in Southeast Asia: 2017: May 102018: May 21 or 222019: May 19 However, most Mahayana Buddhists celebrate the day as Buddha's birthday alone and observe the Buddha's enlightenment and parinirvana on other days.