I woke up this morning to the sound of firecrackers. Very loud firecrackers. Dreary eyed I struggled out of bed and peeped through my blinds. The people next door were crouching down in front of their car with a tray of food and some incense sticks. They seemed to be making an offering to their car as if it was some kind of deity. I was going to take a picture to show you but I decided to go back to bed instead. Half an hour later my alarm clock went off and it was time to get ready for school.
Today is New Year’s Eve for the Chinese people. As many Thai people in this area have Chinese ancestors there is a lot going on here at the moment. I have already mentioned the firecrackers and also the tables outside houses with offerings of food upon them. Walking to school, I also passed several shophouses where people were burning paper money and paper clothes. They are doing this for the benefit of their dead ancestors.
There are three different kinds of prayers that must be chanted today. These are prayers for the Gods of the Land in the morning, prayers for the ancestors at noon and prayers for the wandering souls with no relatives in the afternoon. Chinese people believe that these prayers will bring them merit and good luck. After each prayer, they burn golden paper, believing that the paper will become money in the after life.
At school, about 10% of my students were absent today. I think even more will be absent tomorrow. On New Year’s Day, it is traditional for people to go to their relatives’ houses to give and receive blessings. Children are given red envelopes with money inside so for sure the students don’t want to miss that!
There will be a ceremony for dead ancestors at the school this afternoon. I will take some pictures to show you later. I will also try and take some pictures of the Chinese street opera near the City Pillar as that is a treat for the senses.