Contributed by Tanyapa Tantrasadetee (Belle)
Many Thais descend from Chinese ancestors, and because of this Chinese/Lunar New Year is as well celebrated in Thailand as the Thai New Year. Streets and residential areas—especially the China Town in Bangkok—are full of decorations like the infamous red lanterns. Marketing campaigns are launched and specialized for the Chinese New Year, and the red envelop is used as a gimmick for advertising. The Red color is also applied as a theme for several webpages, to both commemorate the date, and to make the most of the prosperity the New Year offers to businesses.
My own family were born and raised in Chinese culture. During Chinese New Year festivals, all the family members gather up for a seasonal reunion. Fine food is brought not only to be cooked decently and devoured amicably, but also to serve as a communal family activity. For adults the meal offers the means to catch up with family members who haven’t been seen in a long time. For kids it’s an open season as, following a Chinese tradition where elders give away red envelopes loaded with banknotes, promoting prosperity, health, and luck, the children openly receive as many of these envelopes as possible. Kids continue to receive red envelopes on Chinese New Year until they eventually start making money on their own. Alongside the red envelopes offered to children, elders receive oranges from their offspring, as oranges are believed to bring them good health. Throughout the New Year festivities, the most famous Thai greeting of “Xin Jia Yu Ei, Xin Ni Huad Chai” is spoken out with smiles to wish the other person full of happiness and money.
The New Year is such a joyous time of celebration, that it has even caught on among Thai people who weren’t raised in Chinese families. It’s not uncommon for different cultures throughout Thailand to give out red envelopes just for fun. This isn’t restricted to familial celebration either, and is even common in the workplace. Throughout the New Year, it’s not unusual to see bosses giving out red envelopes to their juniors.
I hope you enjoy the pictures of my own personal celebrations, and I would like to say to you all: “Xin Jia Yu Ei, Xin Ni Huad Chai”. I wish you all luck and happiness in year 2019.