Before coming to Thailand, I never expected to be faced with such visible Christmas spirit. It’s very interesting to live in a city that celebrates a holiday so openly and freely devoid of the religious foundations. Maybe it’s just that easy to fall into ‘the christmas spirit’…
My school, Satit Kaset is in the christmas spirit. Parents are especially are into the giving part; I’ve had mounds of presents on my desk each day this week consisting of the finest chocolates and baked goods, handwoven blankets, whitening cream (I definitely need that…), Lacoste shirts, emerald earrings, and other fabulous luxuries. It really is Christmas in Thailand!!!
The Christmas sweaters are on, too, despite the balmy eighty degree weather. You’d think certain modifications could be made to accomodate the tropical climate, but no, Thailand will not give up on the sweaters. The more ridiculous the better. The decorations are out, Starbucks’ wreaths are up, and someone spent a lot of time lining the streets of Bangkok with poinsettias.
Do you have to be Christian or Catholic to celebrate Christmas? “NO!” Thailand declares. Religion aside, this is a holiday about big, faux trees in front of mall complexes, music that the general population can’t understand, and giving random trinkets to loved ones. It seems that Bangkok and other large cities in Thailand just like to get into the Christmas spirit. And who can blame them? It’s a infectious holiday whose festivities, with or without the religious prerequisite, are still easy and fun.
Giant, origami-esque snowflakes, flashy penguins, and sparkling gold ‘Lets Celebrate’ brighten up major mall entrances. (Do they derive nostalgia or meaning from these snowflakes considering they’ve never experienced snow? Doubtful.) But it’s aesthetically appealing… and borderline superficial since I know that Thailand is big on the show. But i’m not going to complain too much, because it’s homey and nice. It’s a show-y that I can appreciate.
Christmas carols were in full swing at my local grocery store, making it feel like an average holiday grocery trip, without the tangible holiday stress. Mariah Carey wailed while I wondered, am I the only in the store who understands this song? Does this song stir up childhood memories for the others in the store? Again, doubtful.
Here’s Thailand with a measly Christian population (expats), yet all of its citizens are dying to be apart of the Christmas festivities. Bangkok is casually shrugging its shoulders and saying, “It’s not that big of a deal to celebrate Christmas even if you’re not Christian.” However, there is something to be said for countries who don’t succumb to celebrating holidays just because they’re popular in the Western world.
Thailand, in its odd, awkward teen phase, must have been thinking, “well, OTHER countries are celebrating it too!” Thailand idolizes many components of Western culture, and it seems they want in on the action. Luckily, there’s plenty of Christmas to go around the globe. But don’t get too crazy, Thailand, you have some awesome holidays.
In the morning, i’ll be leaving Thailand and going around the globe as I make my way home! I’m excited for that cold, Colorado Christmas conducive to coco drinking, turning up the heat, baking anise cookies, and spending time with my family. What is Christmas to you? Do you celebrate it because it’s connected to your religion? Because the rest of the country celebrates it? Because it’s fun to get into the ‘Christmas spirit’?
Maybe you just need an excuse to wear your new, sparkly shoes, and that’s ok, too.