The Songkran Festival in Thailand is also known as the “Water Festival”. It lasts three days beginning on April 13 each year and is an important festival in Thailand. The Thai Songkran Festival represents cleansing of evil, misfortune and sin, as well as the beginning of the new year and all things good.
1. History of the Holiday
Songkran, also known as the “Water Festival”, is an annual festival celebrated in Thailand. Songkran is a Sanskrit word meaning “the sun moves to Aries, and the new solar year begins”. This is also the hottest time of the year in Thailand. The Songkran Festival is the most solemn and most important festival for Thais, just like the Chinese Spring Festival. At this time, Thais usually celebrate by splashing each other with water, which is why “water” is referenced so much, especially given its association with cleansing and purity.
tài guó de pō shuǐ jié dài dòng le dāng dì lǚ yóu yè de péng bó fā zhǎn
泰 国 的 泼 水 节 带 动 了 当 地 旅 游 业 的 蓬 勃 发 展。
The water splashing festival in Thailand has led to vibrant development of local tourism.
2. Holiday Customs
Before the festival, people do various things to prepare for the new year. This may include doing things like cleaning their home inside and out, and burning old clothes to ward off bad luck. During the festival, people simultaneously splash water and offer blessings to each other, and a series of celebrations such as alms-giving ceremonies, beauty pageants, float parade, food exhibitions, cultural and artistic performances, fireworks displays, and others are held! Like new year’s traditions in many cultures, Thai people will sport new clothes and bring food offerings to the temple to offer to the monks. Of course, as is the case in many traditions, women are especially busy during this time of year, as they are responsible for much of the cleaning and housekeeping.
Another fun custom building sand towers in the temple during the day, decorating with colorful flags and laying flowers, and praying for an abundant harvest; in the evening of April 13th, people sprinkle perfume soaked with petals on the arms and backs of their elders to express their good wishes, while older generations sprinkle the heads of the younger generations with water to give their blessings.
Why do people not simply bathe in the water? The custom of splashing water signifies washing away the troubles of the past year and starting the new year fresh. Many people travel in Thailand during this time, and if you find yourself splashed with water, don’t get upset!
Fun fact: Songkran isn’t unique to Thailand, but is also celebrated in many other countries that have a large Buddhist population, like neighboring countries Myanmar and Cambodia.
Teaching point: 庆祝vs. 祝福
děng nǐ tōng guò le qī mò kǎo shì ，wǒ men hǎo hao qìng zhù yí xià
等 你 通 过 了 期 末 考 试 ， 我 们 好 好 庆 祝 一 下。
When you pass the final exam, let’s celebrate.
jīn tiān tā yào jié hūn le ，dà jiā dōu sòng lái zuì zhēn zhì de zhù fú
今 天 她 要 结 婚 了， 大 家 都 送 来 最 真 挚 的 祝 福 。
Today she is going to get married. We’re all sending our best wishes.
3. Songkran Festival-related (and Other) Taboos
Don’t put your arm around other people’s shoulders and back, and don’t scare others from behind.
Ladies should not wear short skirts and sleeveless clothes when entering temples or palaces, and men must wear jackets with collars and no sandals.
Take off your shoes and dress neatly and modestly when entering temples. It is best not to wear shorts.
You should be courteous when meeting a monk. Women should avoid touching male monks. If, as a woman, you want to give them money directly, you can place it on a table.
Put your palms together when greeting others, and don’t use your toes to point to people or things.
Teaching point: 尊敬VS尊重
zài guó wài lǚ yóu shí ，wǒ men yào zūn zhòng dāng dì de wén huà xí sú
在 国 外 旅 游 时， 我 们 要 尊 重 当 地 的 文 化 习 俗。
When traveling abroad, we should respect the local culture and customs.
tā shì yí wèi shòu rén zūn jìng de kē xué jiā
他 是 一 位 受 人 尊 敬 的 科 学 家。
He is a respected scientist.