Author Archives: Richard Barrow
When I first came to Thailand there wasn’t much when it came to English language media or entertainment. This was before Internet and cable television. Movies at my local cinema were always dubbed into Thai though if I took a two hour bus ride to Bangkok I could find a cinema showing the movie with the original soundtrack. While there I would visit one of the few branches of Asia Books to browse their selection of overpriced English language books. On Khao San Road the price of a second-hand novel was almost as much as a new one back home. I rented a VHS video sometimes but only if I could find one that had original soundtrack. Most were dubbed. Communicating with the folks back home meantexpensive phone calls on birthdays and Christmas Day. Letters sent via the post office was the norm though we had to wait a couple of weeks for a reply.
Now, of course everything has changed so much. The Internet and then emails certainly made a big difference to us for communication. Then along came satellite TV with first IBC and then finally TrueVisions. Also, more of the terrestrial Thai tv channels started to programmes and movies with soundtrack if you have an appropriate TV set. New shopping malls started to be built in the suburbs and upcountry. With them came multiplex cinemas with more choice of foreign movies. The new malls also meant more branches of Asia Books. When DVDs came along, it meant that most movies being sold now had both Thai and original soundtracks as well as subtitles.
There are many festivals in Thailand throughout the year, but not all of them have their origin in this mainly Buddhist country. For example, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas. It has been said before that Thais love celebrating and so they will adopt any event that looks like fun. With Christmas, it is more of an end of year festivity. Just because the shopping malls have Christmas Trees and carols are being sung across the nation, it doesn’t mean that they are celebrating Christmas.
During a recent ABAC Poll, 94% of Thai people said that they knew of Christmas. 44% of them said that Christmas is a festive season, one of happiness and family gathering. 26.5% said that they felt nothing special about Christmas. What would have been more interesting was if they had asked them what Christmas is all about. I bet many of them would have said that it is Santa’s birthday.
As Thailand is a Buddhist country, Christmas Day in Thailand is not a holiday. So, unless the Thai children go to an international school, all of them, including foreign teachers, were at school today. Quite a few schools put on some kind of activity and took this opportunity to tell the students the meaning behind the day.
At Sriwittayapaknam school, students dressed up as Santa Claus and little angels and they handed out candies to the kids as they arrived at school this morning. Then during assembly, everyone was entertained with Christmas carols and dancing around the tree. In the school, about 98% are Buddhists and the rest are Muslims and Christians. Only a handful really, but at least they can share an important part of their religion with their friends.