Thailand is well-known for her festivals which take place all the year round. Most of these festivals influenced by Buddhist and Brahminical religions, however, with the passage of time a number of them have been adopted in deference to the international practice.
Actually, the official New Year’s Day of Thailand has undergone several changes. Once it used to fall at the end of November. Later, during the reign of King Rama V (1868-1910) it was moved to a date round about April and then New Year’s Day was changed to April the first. The universal practice of celebrating the new year on January 1 was adopted in 1941 in deference to the western calendar and this is one of a number of changes aimed at modernising the country.
Though January 1 is regarded as official New Year, the majority of Thais still regard the middle of April (Songkran) as their new year’s day, and on this auspicious occasion a week-long celebration is held throughout the kingdom. Most of activities on Sonkran Day involve water throwing, building sand pagodas and pouring lustral water on the aged as a means of blessing. To be frank, a celebration on January 1 is not so popular as the of Songkran. Normally, before the upcoming January 1 , people will exchange greeting cards and gifts. Since on this auspicious occasion, a few grand celebrations are held in the kingdom, people take this opportunity to travel upcountry to visit their relatives or spend holidays at a tourist attraction site, while those stay at home will prepare food and other necessary items to make merit on the early morning of January 1 and then take part in various charitable activities held in various places.
At the same time, several companies take this opportunity to give a bonus and announce promotions to their employees who later cash money to buy gifts for relatives and friends before heading to their hometown for a long vacation.
Obviously, in Thailand people celebrate New Year three times a year, namely; the Thai traditional New Year or Songkran, January 1 and the Chinese New Year. Out of these, Songkran is the most joyous occasion which draw people from all walks of life to take part in a week-long celebration. Meanwhile, the Chinese New Year is important especially for Thai citizens of Chinese origin. Though it is not a public holiday, most private organisations will close their business for several days so that the employes and their employees will be able to celebrate the auspicious occasion with their relatives at home or spend a long holiday in a place they like.