The Thai Lunar New Year is one of most important festivities for Thai-Chinese in Thailand. While most Westerners associate Lunar New Year’ with parades in Chinatown and a delicious banquet, the holiday’s traditions differ per region.
Around 15 percent of Thailand’s population is said to be derived from Chinese settlers who came in the country in the early 1800s. As a result, Chinese customs such as the Lunar New Year (Wan Trut Jin in Thai) have been deeply embedded in Thai culture.
During the Thai Lunar New Year event, before the Covid-19 outbreak, Chinese populations in Bangkok would come alive with dancing, festive music, and brilliantly lighted lanterns that would color the skies scarlet.
Despite the fact that huge gatherings are prohibited this year to prevent the spread of Covid-19 disease, families will carry on with their customs. Exchanging presents, a family unification supper, and crimson decorations are just a few of the customs.
The Thai Lunar New Year in 2022 will be on February 1st, ushering in the year of the Tiger. The festivities last around two weeks, from Thai Lunar New Year’s Eve through the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the lunar year.
1. The origins of Lunar New Year celebrations may be traced back to myth and terror.
According to Chinese folklore, at the start of each year, the wild beast Nian (which is also the word for “year”) attacked and killed villagers. People were able to frighten the beast away one day by making loud noises and flashing lights. The monster Nian never reappeared, and Chinese New Year celebrations were formed as a result.
2. People exchange red envelopes and oranges are distributed.
The red envelopes known as “ang-pao” or “hóngbo” are familiar to Thai-Chinese families. Red envelopes are frequently presented to unmarried youngsters by their parents or elders. “Ysuqián,” which means “money to fend off bad spirits,” is another name for the red envelopes.
In addition, most individuals begin planning visits to their extended family, relatives, and friends to share a few oranges and ang pao and wish them a Happy Chinese New Year.
3. There’s a lot of red.
Wearing red or vividly colored hues for Thai Lunar New Year is considered lucky among Thai-Chinese. Red decorations can also be seen in plenty. This is because the color red is said to fend off evil spirits and attract riches and positive energies. The streets are lit up with red lanterns, and the doors are adorned with crimson couplets and New Year pictures.
4. Fireworks display and traditional dragon dance
Firecrackers are thought to be used to ward off demons. Colorful traditional dances would be performed outside, sometimes as a street procession, to the rhythm of drums and cymbals. All of the major activities were hosted in Yoawarat Chinatown, which is the primary location in Bangkok. The streets are festooned with red lanterns and dragon and lion dancers dressed in vibrant costumes.
Because the Chinese think they are descended from the fabled beast, the dragon features in many Chinese cultural celebrations.
5. It is forbidden to sweep or clean the house.
“Thai-Chinese people believe that sweeping or cleaning the house during [Thai Lunar] New Year will sweep their luck and fortune away, and money will leave the house,” according to an article published by Chulalongkorn University in 2020.
There is, however, a day set aside for sweeping and cleaning in order to create place for the good fortune that occurs before to the Spring Festival.
6. People think that at this period, you should not dispute or curse anyone.
During Thai Lunar New Year, superstitions suggest that speaking pleasant things and being kind would bring you joy and luck. During the festival, many think that swearing or using words with terrible connotations such as death, poverty, or ghosts will bring them bad luck for the rest of the year. Furthermore, the word “s” for “4” is regarded as a terrible word in Chinese since it sounds akin to “death.”
7. Families get together for a dinner reunion.
On the night of Thai Lunar New Year, families assemble for a sumptuous dinner that mostly includes duck, chicken, fish, pork, and, of course, dumplings! This is known as the reunion dinner, and it is the most important meal of the year. Several generations of huge families gather around round tables to share meals and quality time.
Most families prepare a variety of symbolic “lucky” meals, but the ‘Jiaozi,’ or riches dumpling, is clearly the most popular. Many families love cooking the dough and fillings for dumplings together before the New Year’s feast.
8. Offerings and homage to ancestors
The day before Thai Lunar New Year’s Day, many Thai-Chinese pay a visit to their ancestors’ graves, giving offerings to them before the reunion feast. This religious practice is founded on the notion that the spirits of departed family members continue to exist and will benefit the family in return.
Perhaps this is because Thai-Chinese people feel more estranged from their ancestral country than Chinese people, and hence the ceremonial of remembering the past and prior relatives has more weight here than in China.