Friday, October 31, 2014

The Land of Smiles -- and Many Holidays!

If you want to find a spirit of celebration all around you, Thailand is the place to be.

The Land of Smiles -- despite recent political unrest -- happily celebrates all holidays -- their own and those belonging to different cultures.

When Bob and I visited my brother Mike and his wife Jinjunta in Bangkok for Christmas and New Year's - 2006-2007 - we were amazed at the Christmas decorations and music all around us, some of the songs translated to Thai, some of the music played on Asian instruments giving the familiar tunes a whole different lilt. Although Thailand is largely Buddhist with a Muslim minority in the southern part of the country, Christmas spirit abounds there during our holiday season, even as they celebrate a cherished holiday of their own: their beloved King's birthday.

Another major holiday is the April Water Festival, as the always warm weather gets even hotter, where people happily throw water on each other as they celebrate the season -- right along with the Christian  Easter.

Now pictures from Mike and Jinjunta, joined by their children Maggie, 5, and Henry, 2, show that Halloween is also observed in Thailand. But it is Halloween with a Thai twist: instead of begging for candy from neighbors, kids fill a candy bag at home and take it to school, exchanging candy with their classmates, getting the experience of giving as well as taking.

       Maggie's kindergarten class all ready for Halloween Thai-style

                               Maggie, left, exchanges candy with a classmate

This is a land that cherishes its own traditions and takes pride in the fact that it was never a Western colony. Nevertheless, Thailand embraces other cultures' causes for celebration with such endearing enthusiasm, one can't help but smile!

                              Mike, Henry, Maggie, Jinjuta: Happy Halloween!


  1. Well, that's quite interesting. I never realized any of that about Thailand. It makes me curious about all those other countries around the world about which I know nothing.

    1. Thanks for your comment! It IS interesting to see how other countries celebrate holidays -- and which holidays they choose to celebrate!

  2. Must be an interesting country... I don't have any Thai blogger friends --but I do have many friends from India and Malaysia. AND--I'm always impressed at their love of life including music and many celebrations and traditions... LOVE it... (Sad that our country now is trying to get rid of all of our traditions.) How long did your brother and family stay there? Is his wife originally from there? So glad you all got to visit there. That must have been a Christmas HIGHLIGHT in your life.


    1. It is an interesting country, Betsy, and I share your sadness about this country playing down some holiday traditions. It seems so much better to simply embrace a variety of holidays and traditions. My brother was based in Thailand as a fighter pilot flying missions over North Vietnam in the early 70's and fell in love with the country and its people. After he retired from UCLA in 2005 (he is an M.D. and administrator), he went to work for a hospital in Bangkok where he met his wife, who is a lovely person and a native born Thai. He is now working for another hospital chain there and they make fairly frequent trips back to the U.S. -- they have a home in Los Angeles as well as Bangkok -- but their children are definitely bicultural.

  3. Dear Kathy, It's lovely to learn that Thailand embraces so many different holidays from different cultures and different spiritual paths. In the past thirty years, I've felt that slowly our country has been becoming so insular in so many ways. I remember what John Henry Cardinal Newman is quoted as saying, "To grow is to change and to change often is to become perfect." By "perfect" I don't think he meant the ordinary meaning but instead that we become more whole--more open to life. Peace.

  4. I really do love this tradition of sharing the candy. It's wonderful. And I also appreciate how they are adapting a variety of customs while maintaining their own celebrations. The photos are wonderful -- what cute kids!

    I know little about Thailand -- except for their terrific food!