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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class:
Holidays in Thailand, Lesson 2 – Christmas
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Thailand Series at ThaiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Thai holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 2, Christmas. In Thai, it’s called วันคริสต์มาส (wan khrít-mâat).
In this lesson, we're going to discuss Christmas Day, which falls on December 25 every year. The celebration of this day has been heavily influenced by the West, and although this day has not been officially declared a holiday, Thai people don't hesitate to celebrate it. It is another day that Thais long for. You must be interested by now. If you're ready, let’s listen.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
In Thai, “Christmas” has a separate meaning as well. What do you guys think it means?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Christmas in Thailand often begins at big department stores, which are elegantly decorated with colorful lights. There is music or ดนตรี (don-dtrii) as well as a Christmas tree, which is a symbol of the festive period. In Thai, a Christmas tree is called ต้นคริสต์มาส (dtôn khrít-mâat). These items create an atmosphere that encourages many people to come out and take pictures as keepsakes. In the past year, the Central World department store imported and exhibited the largest Christmas tree in South East Asia. With a record height of 36 meters, it impressed both Thai people and tourists alike.
Because Christmas is not an official holiday in Thailand, many non-Christian schools continue their normal teaching schedules. Still, in many places events are hosted every year to celebrate Christmas, including chorus competitions, stage shows, and quizzes about Christmas Day. Activities that are highly anticipated by children include parties or งานเลี้ยงสังสรรค์ (ngaan líiang săng-săn) and drawing lots for the gift exchange, because this is a chance for them to eat delicious food and receive new toys.
In Thailand, animals or สัตว์ (sàt) are often dressed in Santa Claus costumes on Christmas Day. Elephants in Ayutthaya are dressed as Santa Claus and walked to schools where they distribute gifts to children. Tigers in the Sriracha Zoo, or (สวนสัตว์ศรีราชา) wear Santa Claus hats and take photos with tourists. Even pandas in the Chiang Mai Zoo (สวนสัตว์เชียงใหม่) wear Santa Claus costumes. People in the West may view this as animal cruelty, but in the eyes of Thai people, it is adorable.
Since many Thai people are Buddhists, there are usually no Christmas tree decorations in houses during Christmas time. Thai children usually misunderstand the traditional story and think Santa Claus is supposed to hand gifts directly to them, because this is what happens in schools, where school teachers usually dress up as Santa Claus and walk around, distributing sweets to children.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
In Thai, “Christmas” has a separate meaning as well. What do you guys think it is?
The word “Christ” refers to ‘Christianity’ and “Mas” means ‘moon’. From the Thai interpretation, Christmas means “Jesus Christ is the light of the world, like moonlight in the night time”.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate Christmas in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at ThaiPod101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!

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