Category Archives: Chinese New Year

Feast for Chinese Gods

Tomorrow marks the start of a new year for Chinese people. It is the year of the Rabbit. Today, it is still New Year’s Eve. Firecrackers have been going off all day and local shopkeepers have been setting up shrines in front of their premises. Several that I passed today were burning paper money and other objects. At school this afternoon, the administrators made an offering of a large banquet to Chinese Gods and also their ancestors. It is also traditional to wear red on this day but for some reason not so many people do that these days.

On New Year’s Eve, many of the Thai people with Chinese blood will go and visit their elders. At my school, there was an average of about five students in each class that were absent today. They eagerly went with their parents to visit their grandparents as they knew they would receive a red envelope with some money inside. My next door neighbours this morning had set up a small shrine in front of their house. As I was eating breakfast they had just finished their offering of food to the Gods and were setting off the firecrackers.

At school they probably had one of the biggest feasts laid out for the Gods in my area. Maybe with the expectation that they will receive great merit in return. Each of the food items have special meaning. For example: glass noodles (longevity), chicken (dignity), duck (cleanliness and harmony), pig (abundance), fish (wealth and fertility), oranges (affluence), pear (good fortune) and gourd (abundance). So they pick and choose the food carefully.

After paying respect to the deities, the burning incense sticks are then placed in each of the plates of food. Each person does this three times so they end up lighting three sets of incense sticks. This number is linked to how the Chinese bow three times to their elders and images of their ancestors. In fact, every part of this ceremony has meaning from the time it starts to the layout of the food. Nothing is random. For Gods there should be one rice bowl in front of the incense bowl. Then there are four rows of food: vegetarian dishes, meat dishes, fruits and desserts.

Furthest away from the incense bowl are the stack of paper clothing and gold and silver papers. Once all of the food has been offered to the Gods, then it is time to burn the paper offerings. This starts with the paper clothing and paper money. And then the gold and silver paper. There was also paper mobile phones and even cars. At the completion the firecrackers were set off. Nothing is wasted. The householders can now eat the food themselves, though often this is donated to friends and neighbours. I certainly got more than I could eat today.

Where to Celebrate Chinese New Year

On Thursday 3rd February 2011 we will see the start of the Chinese New Year. This time it is the Year of the Rabbit. Already I have started to hear the crash of cymbals and the occasional firecracker. I was in Chinatown yesterday where I took these pictures. There were many people there buying decorations and festival sweets. As you can see, the colours red, yellow and gold are very popular. On Wednesday we will see a lot of activity outside many homes belonging to people who have Chinese ancestors. They will be offering food to their dead ancestors and burning paper. They will also set off firecrackers. However, Thursday is the real start of the new year.

In Bangkok, they will be closing a section of Yaowarat Road near Odeon Circle for three days, 3-5 February 2011. This is obviously the best place to go if you are in Bangkok as there will be cultural performances and lots of delicious Chinese festival food. However, they will also be having big celebrations on this day at Central World. Although there will be celebrations for Chinese New Year all over Thailand, the following are the main locations: Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Chon Buri (Pattaya district) and Ratchaburi in Central Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima in Northeastern Thailand, Nakhon Sawan (Pak Nam Pho) and Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, Songkhla (Hat Yai district) and Phuket in Southern Thailand.

Nakhon Sawan: “Amazing Nakhon Sawan Chinese New Year, Celebrate H.M. the King’s 84th Birthday”, 27 January – 7 February 2011. The activities will highlight Chinese culture from various parts of Nakhon Sawan like writing auspicious Chinese characters, fortune tellers, and Chinese food festival.

Nakhon Ratchasima: “Chinese New Year Korat 54 “Amazing Shanghai”, February 3 – 5, 2011, at the Thao Suranaree Monument courtyard and memorial park. The activities will highlight the decoration of Chumphol Road to make it look the same as Shanghai city, golden lion parade, Chinese food, souvenir shops, ‘Ung-Pao’ (money-envelopes), and lucky draws.

Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya: “5th Chinese New Year Celebration 2011 in the Ancient City, Ayutthaya”, February 4 – 8, 2011, 17.00-23.00 hrs, in front of Chao Prom Market, Naresuan Road and in front of the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Municipal Office. The activities include the opening ceremony, the contest of Miss Chinese New Year and kids and Chinese costume.

Suphan Buri: “Chinese New Year in Suphan Buri, Amazing 3 years of the Dragon Descendants Museum”, February 3 – 7, 2011, at the Descendants Dragon Museum. Activities include the opening ceremony, fireworks, performances of folk music, and Chinese dance.

Ratchaburi: “Ratchaburi China Town 2011”, February 2 – 6, 2011 at the Ratchaburi National Museum. Activities include the Ratchaburi China Town parade, water curtain show, fireworks, light and sound show, Mister and Miss Chinese New Year contest.

Phuket: “Chinese New Year Festival – Back to the Past of Phuket Town”, February 8 – 10, 2011, at the Chalermprakiat Park and Thalang Road. Activities will highlight the lifestyle of the Phuket people in the old days, local people wearing traditional Phuket apparel, the show from Suining city of the People Republic of China, signing the MOU for Twin cities between Suining city and Phuket.

Chiang Mai: “China Town in Chiang Mai”, February 4 – 6, 2011, 09.00-24.00 hrs at Trok Lao Cho. The outstanding activities will be the exhibition of the giant oranges basket, Kung Fu from Guangxi, fire dragon show and lion dance.

Chonburi (Pattaya): “Chinese New Year Festival in Pattaya City”, February 3 – 5, 2011, Pho Na Klue Courtyard, Banglamung district. For further information on activities, please contact the TAT Pattaya Office, Tel: 038-427667, 038-428750.

Songkhla (Hat Yai): “Chinese New Year Festival in Hat Yai”, February 2011 at Srinakorn School courtyard. For further information on activities, please contact the TAT Hat Yai office, Tel: 074-231055, 074-238518.

Although we have a large Chinese community here in Samut Prakan, we don’t really have any major celebrations. So, this weekend, I will be heading to Nakhon Sawan for their Chinese New Year festivities. Are you planning on going somewhere?

Chinese New Year

All over the world today, people of Chinese descent are starting to celebrate the Chinese New Year which officially starts tomorrow. I woke up this morning to the sounds of firecrackers. People were making food offerings to dead ancestors and then setting off firecrackers. They also went to their local Chinese Shrine to make offerings to the Gods. In the evening they enjoyed entertainments such as Chinese Street Opera. This is the Thai version where they sing in Thai but with a heavy Chinese accent. You can watch a video clip I shot tonight over at the Paknam Web Forums.

Food offering for dead ancestors

Chinese Street Opera

Preparing for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Thai-Chinese dragon dancers perform Friday, Feb. 16, 2007, in Thailand’s Chinatown in Bangkok. Chinese all over the world will celebrate their Lunar New Year on Feb. 18, 2007. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)

Chinese New Year

Old Patong: Our first Chinese New Year:1980

The aroma from the wok drew us into Thai Garden.

Dao had been cooking a big load of freshly picked cashews with chili, we munched on them while drinking a Greenspot and chatting with Crazy Dave and Dutch Jeff.

Jeff, the big, loud talking Dutchman knew the price of everything on the island. He was a true Dutchman and knew where the least expensive food or drinks were and often just sat around Thai Garden waiting for another expat or traveller to get one of those week long feast going, Dave would fire up BBQ or dig a pit on the northside of the place and do it “Hawaiian style” if needed.

Jeffs new son, could barely waddle, usually crawling under foot or under tables as we solved the worlds worries for hours on end,,,

“Jep-noi” as we called Little Jeff was a riot, he’d regularly “water the floor” as Crazy Dave would grimace and yell for Dao to get things cleaned up…again.

Dao, a big grin on her kisser would quickly do what was needed and just as quick, run back into the kitchen, her real domaine and stay there til she finally quit cooking near 10pm or so. Her little sister Toi was always helping Dao and they would have various relatives of Dao’s coming and going thru-out the year.

One of her brothers, Mee, showed up on the BahtBus early one morning, fresh from Krabi, he moved in and slept in the kitchen most of the time, that is most of the time that he wasn’t at the Disco! Mee loved the Disco, not the new Banana Disco, but the old round big thatched-hut styled place on the beach, just across from Lada Bar.

Every evening he’d come up to me and say “Gary, you, me go Disco”, but I’d just smile and always answer “No Mee, You go Disco” and slip him 10-20baht and he’d be off and not return til near daybreak.

One of the visits there, Mee received a conk on the side of his face with a beer bottle, this set the young man off on a tizzy, he had a grenade buried out under the big barge that the monsoon had washed up on the beach last month and Mee was totally ready to blow up the Disco and its surly inhabitants right NOW!

Dutch Jeff and Crazy Dave grinned as Mee went on and on about the Disco, etc, I sat nearby listening, then Crazy Dave mentioned to Mee about “why would you want to hurt those that were innocent and just bystanders that were just having fun at the Disco dancing”?

We got a few Thai Garden lemonades[Mekhong, Sprite, Meenow]in Mee and he mellowed out some and took his grenade back to the hiding place under the barge and all was well or another case of Mai Pen Rai.

The sun was slowly coming up over the big mountain behind the rice paddy, none of us was even ready to call it a day or night that is, we just kept on keeping on.

The early BahtBus came slowly down the dirt beach road, picking up a few going to Phuket town and dropping off Crazy Daves order, baskets full of fresh produce, seafood, etc for that days feasting. Like most restaurants or cafes on Patong Beach, they’d have extensive menus, but it was always “can get for tommorrow” on most of the items.

Crazy Dave only used fresh goods, and he never ran low on the real necessities: Mekhong whiskey, Singha beer, Greenspots, etc,etc,etc., besides, the ever near “motor-cycle markets” or various food/noodle carts were never more than a shout away!

As long as the party was going, Dutch Jeff wasn’t leaving anyway and he always had great stories about his days in the WWII Underground where he helped the Allied war efforts considerably, enough to be granted US citizenship shortly after the war. Jeff was quite a guy!

About 10AM we were startled to see a multi-legged DRAGON entering the Thai Garden front yard/motorcycle parking area! This was my first introduction to Chinese New Year! Complete with many firecrackers going off, we watched the Dragon dancing up and down the beach road for most of the day, going from business to business, gathering good will and donations for the local school, we all happily contributed.

This was the first of many Chinese New Years that Patong Patty and me were fortunate enough to be part of. Later in the day we’d be at Ett, our kind maids house enjoying her family and friends and the karioke of village life.