Chinese New Year in Thailand
Preparations have started in Thailand for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Years Day is
the 3rd February 2011, and is the Chinese Year of the Rabbit. This year in Thailand is the year 2554 (2011 in Europe, USA and other countries).
The year is 2554 as it is based on the Buddhist calendar coming from the original version of the Surya Siddhanta, which dates back to the 3rd century. There is therefore, a 543 years difference between the Buddhist calendar and the Gregorian calendar.
Thailand will also celebrate the beginning of the Thai New Solar Year April 13th to the 15th, which is the Songkran Festival, and involves the throwing of lots of water, but I will talk about the Songkran festival in a later post.
Back to the Chinese New Year and Thailand has more than 60 million inhabitants, of which about 6 million have Chinese ancestors, who immigrated to Thailand in the last century. So Chinese New Year's day is an important public holiday in Thailand.
Local Chinese communities organize colourful processions and dragon dances as a part of New Year celebrations. The Chinese New Year is usually celebrated on first day of the Chinese style lunar calendar and is also commonly known as Lunar New Year and The Spring Festival.
The Chinese people in Thailand will use red banners on the main gates of their shops and houses. According to Chinese folk law, red color will bring them good luck in the coming year. People give money inside red envelopes (ANG PAO). Their living rooms are decorated with flowers, dried fruit, mandarin oranges and tangerines. People give mandarin oranges and tangerines to each other during Chinese New Year as these represent wealth and good fortune. In many areas Red and Gold Chinese lanterns will also adorn the streets.
Chinese banger fireworks, a long string of bangers that explode sequentially culminating in a larger bang and spitting out small pieces of red paper, will be heard going off during the celebrations. (Thai people also use these loud fireworks to celebrate weddings, funerals, lottery wins and other special occassions).
Offerings will be made to the Gods and ancestors, in the form of steamed duck, chicken, pork, fruit, Chinese cake, dried mushrooms, bean cakes and edible Chinese flowers. Often these will consist of an entire Pigs Head, and whole chickens or ducks behind Mandarin oranges, representing prosperity and wholeness, and wealth and good fortune. Gold paper, money and clothes are also offered to the ancestors, who they will pray to.
On the last day of the old lunar year, people will pray and prepare offerings to the gods and to their ancestors. There are three different kinds of prayers that must be performed, including prayers for the Gods of the Land in the morning, prayers for the ancestors at noon and prayers for the wandering souls with no relatives in the afternoon.
These prayers show respect to the gods and ancestors. They believe that these prayers will bring merit and blessings. After each prayer, the Chinese burn the gold paper and money, believing that the paper will become money in the after life.
More prayers are made on New Year’s day, this time it is for the gods of luck and good fortune.
These prayers are usually performed in the early morning. Check out the ‘Lear Yik Tao’ (Chinese book of culture and tradition) to find out the best time to pray. After this some families will pray again for their ancestors.
On New Year's day people will visit their relatives and give and receive blessings. They give each other mandarin oranges and give ‘Ang Pao’ to the younger children. The Chinese people believe that this will bring them good luck in the New Year.
This is not a time to be mean to each other or fight as this, it is believed will bring bad luck throughout the New Year.
The Chinese God of Wealth, Choi Sun, often appears during the Chinese New Year celebrations, spreading good luck and handing out red envelopes as gifts. The red envelops are called ANG PAO.
There are also some rules that must be adhered to:
- The whole house must be cleaned before New Year's Day as on New Year's eve, all the brooms and brushes are put away. Sweeping and dusting isn't done for fear that good fortune will be swept away.
- At midnight doors and windows must be opened to allow the old year to make exit.
- No-one may borrow or lend anything on New Year's day.
Read more about Thailand on my web site Thai Enchantment