PHNOM PENH, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said here on Monday that the Chinese Lunar New Year has gained great popularity in the kingdom, estimating that up to 80 percent of the population observe it.
In a speech during a graduation ceremony of nearly 6,800 students at the Cambodian University for Specialties, Hun Sen said previously, about 10 percent only of the people in his commune celebrated the festival.
"Now, around 70-80 percent celebrate it," the 70-year-old prime minister said.
Hun Sen said all of his family members, including his wife, children, children-in-law and grandchildren, celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The 2023 Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, fell on Sunday.
Sambo Manara, vice president of Pannasastra University of Cambodia, said historic relations have brought about closer bonds of friendship between the peoples of Cambodia and China.
"A large number of Cambodians have Chinese ancestry, and we estimate that about 80 percent of Cambodians living in urban areas and 40 percent in rural areas celebrate the Chinese New Year," he told Xinhua.
Diep Sophal, a history professor at the University of Cambodia, said the Southeast Asian nation usually observes three New Year festivals a year, namely the Universal New Year, the Chinese New Year and the Cambodian New Year.
He said days prior to the festival, Cambodian people with Chinese ancestors always clean and decorate their houses with red color paper-cuts, flowers, red lanterns and Chinese couplets.
The Chinese New Year is not a public holiday in Cambodia, but it is widely celebrated as some schools, private companies and institutions are closed by themselves on the occasion.