Posted by Andrew on 20 December 2007, 11:35 am
When in Thailand over this holiday season it might be difficult to imagine you’re in a Buddhist country with all the Christmas decorations everywhere, but Thais actually love Christmas.
Although less than 1 percent of people in Thailand are Christians, the country as a whole has taken wholeheartedly to this festival, with sparkling tinsel, Christmas trees and carols or Christmas music heard everywhere a tourist might venture.
“The commercial aspect of Christmas has gripped Thailand for years, they love an excuse for a party and celebration”, says one long-standing local expat resident. “I think many foreigners come here to escape it all, but they can’t, it really drives them mad”.
All the shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and even bars in Bangkok and tourist areas have entered into the spirit of Christmas with decorations, trees, music and specials commonly associated with Christmas. Some are even offering mulled wine in the tropical climate, others all have Christmas dinners planned for the 25th.
But Thais themselves don’t actually exchange gifts, and despite all the commercialism of shopping, the actual turnover is small. According to the retail financial services firm GE Money, Thais and Japanese are among the least spenders on Christmas among seven Asian countries surveyed.
However, with the Thais love of any fun celebration, Christmas has become a big hit, and they certainly love dressing up as Santa, listening to the good cheer music and having fun decorating their stores. In areas with big tourist numbers or large expat populations the department stores and malls do experience a larger turnover and that’s important to them.
With Christmas being the height of the tourist season it’s also a nice welcome to Christian tourists, who make up the bulk of the numbers. And even if the ‘cotton wool’ fake snow is a little out of place in the tropical sun, visitors can enjoy the Christmas atmosphere among temples and Buddhas.
Thailand, with its cheap shopping, is also an ideal place to buy Christmas gifts, even decorations, and the Thai are fabulous gift wrappers!
shopping in Bangkok