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Interesting facts about the Chinese New Year tradition in Thailand

Chinese New Year is one of the biggest festivals in Asia. While most Westerners experience “Chinese New Year” by watching parades in Chinatown and having a great meal, its traditions vary from country to country. About 15% of the Thai population is said to be descended from Chinese settlers who arrived in Thailand at the beginning of the 19th century. As a result, Chinese traditions such as the Lunar New Year (Wan Trut Jin in Thai) have taken root in Thai society. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Chinese communities in Bangkok came alive with music, dancing and beautifully illuminated lanterns that colored the sky purple during the Chinese New Year festival.

Despite the fact that large celebrations are banned this year to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infections, families will continue to practice their rituals. Some of the rituals include the exchange of gifts, a family union dinner, and red decorations. Chinese New Year 2022 will fall on Tuesday, February 1, 2022, ushering in a Year of the Tiger. From Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the lunar year, the festivities usually last around two weeks. Keep reading to learn more about the Chinese New Year tradition in Thailand.

Interesting facts about Chinese New Year

1. Chinese New Year celebrations were born out of myth and fear

According to Chinese legend, the wild beast Nian (which is also the word for “year”) attacked and killed the villagers at the beginning of each year. One day, people managed to scare the beast away with loud noises and dazzling lights. The Nian monster never showed up again and that’s how the Chinese New Year celebrations were born.

Photo Via: curiouscitydpw

2. People exchange red envelopes and distribute oranges

“The Thai-Chinese are familiar with the red envelopes called “ang-pao” or “hóngbo”. Red envelopes are usually given to unmarried children by their parents or elders. The red envelopes are also known as “ysuqián”, which means “the money to ward off evil spirits”.

Also, the majority of people are starting to visit their extended family and loved ones to share some oranges and ang pao and wish them a happy Chinese New Year.

Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year Tradition in Thailand |  News by Thaiger

Photo Via: Chinoy TV

3. Red all over

Chinese Thais believe that wearing shades of red or bright colors during Chinese New Year brings good luck. You will also see red decorations everywhere. This is because people believe that the color red is meant to ward off evil spirits and bring in wealth and good energy. Red lanterns adorn the streets, while red couplets and New Year’s images adorn the gates.

Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year Tradition in Thailand |  News by Thaiger

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4. Traditional dragon dance and fireworks show

People believe in detonating firecrackers to scare away demons. There were colorful traditional dances performed outdoors with the accompaniment of drums and cymbals, sometimes like a street parade. Yoawarat Chinatown is Bangkok’s main venue where all the big events were held. The streets are beautifully decorated with red lanterns and colorfully dressed dragon and lion dancers.

The dragon appears in many Chinese cultural festivities because the Chinese believe they are descended from the mythological beast.

Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year Tradition in Thailand |  News by Thaiger

Photo via: flickr

5. Forbidden to sweep or clean the house

According to an article published by Chulalongkorn University in 2020, “Chinese Thais believe that sweeping or cleaning the house during Chinese New Year will sweep away their luck and fortune, and the money will leave the house.

However, there is a day for sweeping and cleaning to make room for the luck that occurs before the Spring Festival.

Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year Tradition in Thailand |  News by Thaiger

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6. People believe you shouldn’t argue or curse anyone during this time

According to superstitions, saying nice things and being kind will bring you joy and luck during the Chinese New Year. People believe that swearing, saying words with negative meanings such as death, poverty, ghosts during the festival will bring you bad luck all year round. Moreover, the word “sì” for “4” is also considered a bad word because it sounds like “death” in Chinese.

Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year Tradition in Thailand |  News by Thaiger

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7. Families get together for a reunion dinner

Families gather on the eve of Chinese New Year for a sumptuous dinner that always includes pork, duck, fish, chicken and, most importantly, dumplings! It’s the most important meal of the year, and it’s known as the reunion dinner. Several generations of large families gather around round tables to enjoy food and time together.

Most families prepare a variety of symbolic “lucky” foods, but the delicacy that is undoubtedly the most popular is “Jiaozi”, or dumpling of wealth. Before the New Year’s Eve, many families like to prepare the dough and fillings for the dumplings together.

Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year Tradition in Thailand |  News by Thaiger

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8. Offer Sacrifices to Ancestors

Many Thai-Chinese visit the graves of their ancestors on Chinese New Year’s Eve, offering them sacrifices before the reunion dinner. This religious practice is based on the belief that deceased family members have continued existence and will bless the family in return.

This may be because the Thai-Chinese feel more distant from their ancestral homeland, and therefore the ceremony of commemorating the past and previous relatives carries more weight here than in China.

Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year Tradition in Thailand |  News by Thaiger

Photo via: flickr

So here are some fascinating facts about the Chinese New Year tradition in Thailand. Although the Chinese New Year event was canceled this year due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the street will still be decorated with beautiful lights and Chinese lanterns. People will still visit Chinese shrines and cults, and pay respect to their ancestors as usual.