Christmas is a little different in Thailand. In some provinces, Santa Claus is known to travel by motorbike with gifts loaded on – Thai style – going from Rayong to northern provinces handing out gifts to children. In Central Thailand’s Ayutthaya, elephants hand out gifts to children at a local school. And in Bangkok’s Khlong Toey slum, another version of the nativity story is told where Mary didn’t make it to Bethlehem and gave birth to Jesus under a local railway bridge.
Elephant “Santas” give gifts to school children
Each year, elephants dress up in Santa Claus costumes to spread Christmas cheer to children at the Jirasat Wittaya school in Ayutthaya. The Ayutthaya Elephant Palace has been holding the holiday event at the school for nearly two decades. This year, in addition to the Santa costume, elephants wore face masks to promote health safety during the pandemic.
Read more about the Ayutthaya’s elephant Santa’s HERE.
“Santa of Rayong” travels by motorbike
Instead of eagerly listening for sleigh bells on Christmas night, children in rural Northern Thailand are keeping an ear out for an engine hum from a motorbike driven by the local legend “Santa Claus of Rayong.” Thailand’s Old Saint Nicholas goes Rayong to provinces in the north every December, driving his motorbike piled high with toys and handing gifts out to children.
65 year Yongut Sangdee has dressed up as the “Santa Claus of Rayong” for nearly three decades. Yongut has said he loves spreading Christmas cheer and happiness. But last year may have been Yongut’s final year as Thailand’s Santa.
Read more about the “Santa of Rayong” HERE.
Another nativity story shared in Bangkok’s slum
Christmas stories are a little different in Bangkok Khlong Toey slums. One legend has it that Mary and Joseph didn’t make it to Bethlehem and Jesus was born under the local railroad bridge in Bangkok.
Father Joe Maier knows quite a few stories told a little differently than the ones written in the Bible. The American priest has run the Mercy Centre providing support for people in Bangkok’s Klong Toey slums for more than four decades, and he’s said there’s another nativity shared in the neighbourhood’s the Catholic community.
Read an article written by Father Joe HERE.