The Chinese New Year day is the most important holiday in the Chinese tradition. Its date is determined according to the first day of the first month of the Lunar year, and the best place to watch and partake in the celebrations is Samphanthawong province (China Town) in Bangkok.
On the day which precedes the holiday, the Chinese begin their extensive preparations which include making offerings to the different gods, including ducks, chickens, pig heads, fruits and special Chinese cakes, along with Chinese flowers (Dogmai Chin) and golden papers. The Chinese clean their homes thoroughly and at midnight leave their doors and windows open so the previous year can leave comfortably, making room for the new one.
On New Year’s Day, the Chinese people wear red clothes, that together with gold, are said to bring good luck. During the holiday, many folklore and street shows take place in Yaowarat, including the famous lion dance, where 2 people in a paper lion move around and make it dance, accompanied by drummers whose drumming represents the lion’s heartbeat. The lion dances around the streets, visits houses, businesses and shops, banishes the demons and summons good luck for the new year. In return, the Chinese people show their gratitude by giving the dancing lion red envelops (Ang Pao) with money. Apart from folklore and culture shows, there are also jugglers and acrobatic displays, along with street stalls packed with Chinese foods and treats.
On the New Year night, crowds of Chinese and Thai people fill the temples around, particularly Wat Mangkon Kamalawat – the biggest, most important Chinese temple in Bangkok. The Chinese people hold their rituals there, using incense, candles and offerings. Personally, I accompany my spouse every year, as she visits the temples, so I can also provide you with pictures and clips.
For those who want to get to China Town during the holiday – please consider that some streets are closed for transportation and there are many traffic jams in the area. You are better off arriving there by boat through the river, or taking the subway to Hualampong and walking from there.
The Chinese New Year greeting (in Chinese) is Sin Chia Yu I Sin Ni Huat Chai, and the Thai people say:
คิดหวังสิ่งใดขอให้สมหวังสมปรารถนาในปีใหม่นี้ มีแต่ความสุขมั่งคั่ง โชคดีร่ำรวยตลอดปี – Khit wang sing dai kho hai somwang som pratthana nai pimai ni mi tae khwam suk mangkhang chokdi ramruai talot pi
So, if you have Thai friends, now you can impress them with a lovely, traditional holiday greeting, which translates: “I wish you a happy and successful new year! May you have prosperity, good luck and joy all through the year” …I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all of the above, so have a happy new year!