In London, we celebrate the new year by popping Champagne bottles, dancing with friends, smooching that special someone and partying till the sun comes up on January 1st. But in Thailand, New Year festivities take place from April 13th to the 15th, and the Thai people mark the holiday with all kinds of activities, ranging from cleansing religious ceremonies to raucous festivals.
Called Songkran, Thai New Year is a special occasion for several reasons. Songkran represents the beginning of the solar new year and the start of summer, the hottest time of the year in Thailand. It also marks the end of the dry season, when farmers can begin to plant their crops again.
It only makes sense, then, that this holiday is celebrated with a water festival. Traditionally, Songkran is a Buddhist holiday in which people go to monasteries to reflect, ask forgiveness and pour water on statues of Buddha to cleanse them. Just as Westerners view the new year as a time to make resolutions and start over, Thai people use Songkran as an opportunity to renew their spirits and cleanse themselves spiritually and physically.
However, the festival’s livelier celebrations are perhaps what makes Songkran so famous.Songkran draws people of all ages out into the streets to spray and splash water on their friends and families.The water festival quickly turns into a street party, with fire engines parking along the road to allow people to refill their buckets, water guns and hoses. Towns all over the country dedicate the days of Songkran to wild water celebrations, with children and adults alike soaking each other to the bone.
This year, Thai officials have announced that Songkran celebrations will be a bit tamer, as the country is still in mourning from the passing of the king earlier last year. Thai people will celebrate nonetheless, toning down some of the debauchery but maintaining the cleansing, community-building spirit of the holiday.
Looking to celebrate Songkran yourself? Head to one of Banana Tree’s authentic Thai restaurants in Soho, Maida Vale, Oxford and beyond.We offer a variety of Indochinese cuisines, but at this time of year, we are particularly proud of the Thai influences in our delicious dishes. Try one of our hearty Thai curries, like the aromatic Gaeng Keo Wan Green Curry made with green spice paste, sweet basil, lime leaves, vegetables and coconut milk. Be sure to finish off your meal with Coconut Stuffed Green Thai Pancakes, too—our pandan pancakes filled with roasted coconut, sesame seeds and vanilla ice cream are not to be missed.
And why not enjoy a festive beverage to mark the occasion? Our cocktail One Night in Bangkok is is an excellent choice. With Mekhong (Thai rum), peach schnapps, passion fruit and vanilla, it will most certainly get you in the holiday spirit.
Tobring a bit of Thailand’s revelries to England, we are extending our Happy Hour during Songkran! Just tell our staff members the secret code ‘One Night in Bangkok’ when ordering. So head on over to Banana Tree for a taste of the Thai New Year. We look forward to celebrating with you!