By Jonathan & Phoebe, OMF SG Missionaries to Thailand
When we think of Thai festive holidays, we would usually think of Songkran. The Thais would splash each other with water to celebrate the new year, or Loy Kratong, where lanterns will be floated down rivers and canals. However, Chinese New Year is also an important festive occasion celebrated by the Thai-Chinese throughout Thailand.
The way Chinese New Year is celebrated in Thailand is similar in many ways with how Singaporean Chinese celebrate, down to the extended family gatherings, the preference of red clothes as a sign of good fortune, and even the exchange of angbaos (red packets).
However, Chinese New Year in Thailand is not only a time to celebrate family but to pay respects to the elders, including those who have passed on. This can be seen in religious practices and rites varying in each Thai province as people offer up prayers and incense.
Besides this, a sign that Chinese New Year is near in Thailand is the sale of a traditional Thai pastry known as ‘kanom piah’, a flaky pastry that can be as large as a dinner plate with an assortment of fillings such as salted egg, preserved winter melon and bean paste. Think of it as super-sized mooncakes!
This Chinese New Year, it is inevitable that we feel homesick with memories of family gatherings and homecooked meals during previous years. However, we plan to carry on the family tradition of a hotpot dinner during Chinese New Year. In the absence of family, we would be inviting other missionaries in Lopburi to join us so that we can share our culture and experience a home away from home.