Was your New Year's Eve unsuccessful? All is not lost yet! In Thailand, you can celebrate the New Year in April as well. Actually, Thai people celebrate the New Year three times a year! The first time is officially on January 1 in line with nearly all other countries. The second time is in either January or February, where they celebrate the “New Moon Year” according to the Chinese calendar. Finally, on April 13 begins Songkran the Thai New Year’s Day, which lasts until April 15.
The word "Songkran” derived from the Sanskrit word samkrānti and means movements or transformation. The Songkran festival refers to the astrological passage of the Sun from the sign of the Pisces to the sign of the Aries, which symbolizes the entrance into the New Year.
Songkran is known as the biggest Water Festival, where everyone splashes water on each other to wish happiness and wash away bad luck. In the Thai culture, water has a very rich symbolism – it is treated as the source of life and spiritual cleansing. Also, for good reason, Songkran falls in the middle of April - this is the hottest month of the year, so throwing water also brings to all relief from the heat. Literally, WATER is the main attribute of this celebration.
As family is very important to Thais, especially the elderly members, they visit and spend this special time with their relatives. The original custom of Songkran is pouring water over the palms of elders by the younger members as a way of showing respect and seeking good fortune. In spite of all this, today the event has turned more into a huge ‘water fight’. The belief in the purifying power of water dates back to the earliest times, where the habit of splashing water is popular and practical in other cultures around the world. For example, Poles on Easter Monday celebrate "Śmigus Dyngus” Day, which is similar to the Songkran tradition.
What’s more, part of Songkran includes offering gifts to the Buddhist monks in the temples and making sacrifices to the spirits at home. But the most important part of this celebration is the ritual of cleaning Buddha statues with ‘blessed’ water containing flowers. Also, during Songkran, it is common to smear participant’s faces with colored talcum powder. This custom refers to the practice of using chalk by monks in order to make a blessing.
The Thai New Year is celebrated ostentatiously throughout the whole country. But is good to know, that the greatest celebration of Songkran is held in Chiang Mai, known as the "Rose of the North". The Water Festival is a fabulous attraction not only for the Thai people but also for the crowds of tourists who visit the country each year to take part in this event. During the three days, Thai streets are filled with the sounds of splashing water and languages from around the world. So, if you want to celebrate the New Year again, then you have one more chance this month!
TRIVIA OF LANGUAGE:
Thai is the official language of Thailand, which is also known as Siamese or Central Thai. Over 95% of its population speaks the language. Therefore, if you plan to visit Thailand you should at get familiar with some phrases for better communication. But, learning at least basic words may turn out to be a tough task because in Thai there are five tones. As a result, one word written the same in Latin can mean five different things depending on the intonation. Anyway, one of the most key words in the Thai dictionary is 'sanuk', which means ‘fun’. Thai people every day find opportunities for ‘sanuk’, so we recommended to start learning the Thai language from this word.