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!