So you’re going to Thailand for New Years? The question you should ask yourself is: which one! “New Years” in Thailand features 3 different kinds of celebrations: namely, Chinese New Year, Thai New Year, and the Western New Year. Chinese New Year is usually celebrated in Thailand in the month of January, but it’s called Spring Festival so don’t get confused. Thai New Years falls during the peak of the hot season, in April. And of course, Western New Year begins the night of December 31st and last until well into the 1st of January.
New Year(s) dates Thailand 2013:
Chinese New Year: February 10, 2013
Songkran: April 13-15, 2013
Western New Year: December 31 – January 1, 2013
Chinese New Year
One of the best places to be during Chinese New Year is in Bangkok, as Chinatown becomes a spectacle of dazzling lights. Parades are organized, and the streets are filled with dancing. People also visit the temples to offer prayers and give alms to the monks. During Chinese New Year in Thailand, people decorate their houses and purchase gifts for their friends and relatives. People also greet their loved ones with clothes, ornaments and flowers.
Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays, and thus it is extremely significant to the Chinese population in Thailand. In China, it is known as “Spring Festival,” since the spring season in Chinese calendar starts with lichun, the first solar term in a Chinese calendar year. It marks the end of the winter season, ushering in the dawn of Spring. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. The Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year”.
Chinese New Year has been observed in countries throughout the world for centuries. It is mainly celebrated in countries and territories that boast significant Chinese populations,including Thailand, China, Hong Kon, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, Vietnam, and also Australia and the United States.
Expect fireworks, food, and festivity during the Chinese New Year in Thailand. For more info, check out: Chinese New Year.
Thai New Year (Songkran)
Songkran is undoubtedly the most important annual event for Thai people. Thai New Year, or Songkran, used to occur on the night on the 15th full moon, but with rising globalization, the date has been fixed to mid-April. It begins on 13th of April and lasts for several days.
Songkran is often called the “water festival”, and its current manifestation is one huge water fight. It takes place during the hottest time of the year, and the water is one of the best ways to cool off. The ritual began as a sacred sprinkling of water as a sign of respect for elders, but now young people use it as an excuse to douse everyone around them in buckets of water.
Despite its mirthful modern adaptation, Songkran remains truly a sacred festival. Individuals will go to the temples to pray and to feed the monks. Woman, customarily, will build stupas of sand – representing the returning of the earth to the temple that the people had carried away on their feet throughout the year.
Read more at: Songkran
Western New Year
Along with globalization came the rise of the western New Year’s holiday in Thailand. This event occurred just before the start of WWII, and was the cause that pushed back Songkran.
Despite not being a public holiday in Thailand, the Western New Year still sees an influx of thousands of people and a large degree of activity. Thais love to celebrate, and parties are held throughout the country. That means you’ll have no problem finding fire-dancing and bucket-drinking in places like Phuket, Ko Pha Ngan, Bangkok, and Pattaya. In fact, you’re likely to find celebrations on even the smallest islands and beaches, as long as there is a crowd to fuel them.
But because many travelers to Thailand celebrate the holiday, you should consider reserving your accommodation in advance — particularly because New Year’s falls during Thailand’s high season.
But no matter if you find yourself in Thailand during Songkran, Chinese New Year, or Western New Year, you’re sure to be in for the ride of your life.