Even after Christmas and why not – Buddhists love that holiday feeling
I’ve mentioned in a number of entries that Bangkok always has more Christmas trees than other places I have visited, including the place in which I live, notwithstanding the fact that the population is over 90% Buddhist. Also, not that this needs saying, there are no fir trees in this tropical country. But that has not stopped Thais from having a great Christmas and New Year’s holiday. They pull out all the stops to help celebrate the season. Not only are Thais Buddhist, don’t have fir trees, snow or any of the other accoutrements that we relate to the season, they also use a different calendar, so the New Year’s celebrations, which are huge here, don’t actually reflect the timing of the Thai new year, which happens to land on April 13th. (The Thai year is 2560, in case you were curious.)
The real reasons for these huge seasonal holiday celebrations are two fold. The first is that Thailand and Bangkok are, to a very large degree, all about tourism, so it’s important to make visitors feel happy and comfortable, particularly during seasonal holidays. In 2016, over 32 million people visited Thailand, an increase of about 13% over 2015. The rise in tourism came despite the death of the King, cases of Zika virus and crackdowns on some Chinese tour groups. Clearly, Thai retailers, hotel owners and the government do everything possible to satisfy tourist needs and if lots of Christmas trees and Christmas music (ugh!) are required, then so be it. (In the restaurant where I had dinner last evening, Christmas music was still being played.)
The second reason that Christmas is celebrated so vigorously in Bangkok is that Thais love holidays and use all and any excuses to have a few days off. So there is time off at Christmas, and then time off at Chinese New Year, landing this year on January 28th, and then time off again at Thai New Year in April. The tourists love all of these elaborate celebrations and the Thais get some time off. What could be better.
So check out some of the Christmas trees in the photos above. The first photo is of a tree I noticed yesterday not far from where I live. The others are from all over Bangkok that I pilfered from the web. While the Christmas season is waning in Canada, here in Bangkok, it’s still going strong, even after Christmas is over.
Tomorrow, I will be heading to China for discussions related to a huge project we are considering there. I have no idea if I’ll have the means or the time to post entries. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. If the Bangkok Blog goes dark for a number of days, you’ll know why.