Bangkok dresses up: Happy Holidays!

Red gold and green Christmas decorations on a tree branch

The Christmas Tree is Ready at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

This is a wonderful time of year in Bangkok.  It is officially “Cool Season” [ฤดูหนาว], which means that most days you can walk around without breaking into an immediate sweat.  It is also the season of lights and decorations.  Some festive decorations go up for The King’s birthday on Dec 5th – then, although 94.6% of Thais are Buddhist, the city adopts Christmas as if it was born to it… any excuse to dress up and party!

Night landscape: Green Christmas trees with white lights

Traditional Christmas Trees at Q-House Lumpini

Non-Traditional Christmas Trees at Q-House Lumpini

View of Patpong street and blue-lit Christmas tree by night

Even the Girlie Bars on Patpong (พัฒน์พงษ์) get into the Christmas Spirit

Night street scene with Christmas tree and cars

How Many Mixed Cultural Symbols Can You Find in One Picture?

Christmas decorations on the Peninsula Plaza, Bangkok

Christmas Lights: The Perfect Backdrop

Night scene: Christmas light and a man and woman looking at a digital photo

The Perfect Backdrop for Holiday Photos

Large red electric candle decorations on a staircase

Candles on the Peninsula Stairs...

Thai male

... Another Photo Op!

Christmas ball with reflection of Peninsula Plaza

Reflections of The Peninsula

Toddler with toy elephant and toy panda

Christmas is for Kids: Battle of the Toys


Christmas Shopping ~ Paragon Shopping Centre

Pink Christmas Bells

Pink Bells ~ Paragon Shopping Centre

For a few weeks, just as in any Western country, Christmas songs and carols can be heard everywhere.  They are blasted from loudspeakers in the shopping centres and train stations.  They are played on the radio and in elevators.  They are performed on the streets and at the various parties and luncheons.  At one lunch I attended, we had not one, but two groups of orphans singing in return for their visit with Santa.   Christmas in Bangkok is not only about bright lights, parties and shopping; it is also a timely reminder of those less fortunate.

Portrait of young Thai female in a santa hat and dress

Singing for Her Supper ~ one of the many AIDs orphans of Klong Toey.

Thais are happy to “celebrate” Christmas, in terms of the trees, and the lights, and the gifts, and all the other trappings.  As I said earlier, any excuse for a party!  But, the spiritual practice of most Thais is grounded in the Hindu/Brahmin/Buddhist traditions, and is very much a part of daily life, every day of the year.  The evidence is everywhere: every house and business has either an animist spirit-house or a Chinese shrine, or both.  People routinely get up early to give rice and other food to the monks walking their morning alms rounds.  Buddhist ceremonies are an integral part of all major life-events like births, deaths, and marriages, and blessings are sought for most other changes, like new houses or new cars. In the course of their daily lives, Thais wai or ‘pay respect’ to statues of Kings or Buddhist Abbots, Buddha images and shrines for Hindu or Brahmin deities.

Night view of Erawan Shrine, Ratchaprasong

The Erawan Shrine, One of Bangkok's Most Important Hindu Shrines, is Busy Every Day of the Year

Candles and incense at Erawan Shrine, Ratchaprasong

Candles and Incense

Woman saying prayers at Erawan Shrine

Anyone Can Say a Prayer... Any Day of the Year

Yellow candles burning

May the Spirit of the Season be with You.

Text: May the Spirit of the Season be with You.

May the spirit of the season be with you!  Happy Holidays.

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  • Signe Westerberg - December 24, 2010 - 12:29 am

    Wishing you both an amazingly wonderful Christmas and a truly fabulous New Year…

    love the pics…as always… beautiful colours, beaming children.

    from the land of the truly blessed….

    Signe, Lance and Co.,ReplyCancel

  • Haakon - December 24, 2010 - 5:32 am

    Great blog and some fantastic photographs!!! Merry Christmas!ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - December 24, 2010 - 7:14 am

      Thanks, Haakon. Same to you. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Guava - December 24, 2010 - 5:03 pm

    Great collection of Bangkok night shots Ursula. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - December 29, 2010 - 3:50 pm

      Happy New Year to you and yours, Guava!ReplyCancel

  • Virgonc - December 29, 2010 - 10:45 am

    Merry Christmas 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - January 1, 2011 - 9:52 am

      “Kellemes karácsonyt és boldog új évet” (I hope that’s right!!) Virgonc!ReplyCancel

  • […] But, even though December 25th is a normal working day in Thailand, the country goes all out to decorate for the season. Aside from a rather tacky Nativity scene at our local shopping centre, the neighbourhood around […]ReplyCancel

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