With the the gregorian calendar new year celebrations over, the Chinese New Year is the next big celebration in Thailand, which kicked off today, January 31. The year 2014 will be the year of the Horse, which is said to bring people it’s own distinct fortunes, but most importantly, it brings yet another amazing celebration to the streets of Thailand!
Last year the festivities in Bangkok brought in many Chinese tourists into the city to ring in the lunar new year. There was plenty of shopping and partying to do, but there were also traditions that surround the celebrations. Leading up to the lunar new year, people clean their homes, offices, stores, etc, because once lunar new year hits, no one cleans any of these spaces for about two weeks.
When I visited Bangkok during the Chinese New Year, my friends and I wanted to participate in tradition and volunteered to help some locals clean their stores. It was long and hard, but well worth all the work once they generously gave us gifts to celebrate the lunar new year. It is said that people want to accumulate as much good luck as possible (even if its accumulating dust and dirty dishes) from everything they do in celebration for the lunar new year.
We also saw that many people head to Chinese temples down in Bangkok’s Chinatown to light incense, pray and get their fortunes told by monks before the big celebrations hit. To prep for parties, homes and venues are decorated with the color red since red is said to be good luck for the Chinese and usually have a vegetarian dinner because the lunar new years represent animals and you don’t want to be eating anything related to that particular animal in order to avoid bad luck.
Walking the streets at night, Bangkok roared with loud bangs and cheers; people began lighting fireworks to scare off the evil spirits and the parties began early in stores, restaurants and bars. Food, drinks, snacks, desserts, processions and dragon processions lined the streets of Bangkok with a festive spirit rivaling that of New York’s Times Square on New Years Eve.
The countdown began and we were all lined along the Chao Phraya River to watch the fireworks go off at midnight. As we walked to the riverbank, we picked up some nice flashy head gear to ring in the lunar new year with our Thai friends.
During my previous trip, fire works went off in the middle of the river at midnight and it rang in 2013; the year of the Snake. Everyone cheered and continued to celebrate well into the night! Unfortunately we couldn’t keep up the whole night since we were still in eastern time, but the experience was an unforgettable one. No matter where you go in Thailand, if there is a celebration, the people of Thailand will be sure to celebrate with you in the most hospitable and joyful way.
Although I only experienced Chinese New Year in Bangkok, this celebration is experienced throughout Thailand. For more information on this year’s celebrations, locations, and various events in Thailand, visit: http://www.tatnews.org/thailand-to-organise-chinese-new-year-2014-celebrations/.