Merry Christmas, Thai style

PHOTO: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Technically, Christmas is not celebrated in Thailand. The April holiday of Songkran, or Thai New Year, is probably the closest equivalent, when families come together in a celebration centered around Buddhist practices. But December 25 is not a public holiday, and in most cases, the only time you’d find a Thai having Christmas Day off, would be if it happened to fall on their usual day off.

Thailand is predominantly Buddhist – around 90% of the population – with a significant Muslim population in the south, and around 1% who are Christian. Beyond the big cities and island holiday hotspots, you’d be hard-pressed to tell that it’s Christmas.

But step into a shopping mall, bar, or restaurant in the aforementioned tourist locations however, and the scene tells a different story. In the larger cities and on the holiday islands, the influence of Western culture is very evident. You will see giant Christmas trees in the middle of large shopping malls, along with an abundance of twinkling fairy lights and Santa figures. It’s the same in restaurants and bars populated by expats and tourists, with many offering the traditional Christmas meal you’d enjoy back home.

Although not an official holiday, international companies, or those with a mostly expat workforce, tend to give the day off, with most international schools offering several weeks’ leave. However, most Thai businesses will remain open. Your favourite street food vendor will still be there (albeit possibly wearing a Santa hat).

The Thaiger made Christmas Day an official holiday but still has part time staff doing the news because, well, the news doesn’t stop for Santa.

The period between December to February brings Thailand’s most pleasant weather and is known as the cool season. Yes, that’s all relative, but daily top temperatures are around 28–33 degrees Celsius as opposed to 35–40 in the ‘hot’ season. December and January mornings can be ‘freezing’ in Bangkok… as low as 20 degrees Celsius! In the mountainous north, it’s even cooler, with many breaking out the sweaters or jackets come evening.

This year, many Thais and expats will cast their minds back to halcyon, pre-Covid times, when December and January were also considered the peak tourist season – the high season. Normally, hordes of tourists would be thronging the beaches right now and packing out the bars and eateries. For Europeans and North Americans, the period coincides with their coldest temperatures, with many choosing to escape the harsh winter and soak up the Thai sunshine instead. This high season has already been a little bit different in the Kingdom this year, to say the least.

On behalf of The Thaiger team we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and promise to keep you informed throughout.

Merry Christmas, Thai style | News by Thaiger Merry Christmas, Thai style | News by Thaiger

SOURCE: Thailand 505

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Maya Taylor

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

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