The new year is reigned in many ways around the world. For those in the western world that use the roman calendar, the new year occurs every January 1st. The celebrations include a myriad of people dressed to impress and very intoxicated in major cities. In New York, a giant glowing ball drops at midnight and people in the streets find a loved one or stranger to kiss. I’ll admit, it’s a lot of fun.
You know what’s more fun? A three day water fight on the streets of one of Thailand’s largest cities. That’s how Thailand brings in the new year, and it’s more bliss than one can imagine.
The Thai new year is celebrated from April 13th through the 15th, which is generally when the full moon occurs. The passing of the full moon commences the new year. As early as the 11th of April, locals begin dousing passerby’s with water from buckets and/or water guns ranging in size. The tradition of pouring water on one another during the new year is meant to wash the bad away, beginning the new year feeling cleansed.
This April, when I conquered Songkran for the first time, I began the Thai new year feeling cleansed, joyful, hopeful, and then some. Spring break began for TEAN students on the first day of Songkran, and needless to say, it was the most epic spring break kick-off I will probably ever have. We filled our water guns and took a songtau as far as we could toward the heart of the old city.
It was sensory overload as we walked along the moat and saw thousands of faces from Thailand and abroad, laughing, dancing, and shouting. There was music blasting all over the city, and very few opportunities to stop and take in the madness, because there was water of every temperature hitting us from all angles.
You might start the day thinking you’re going to be passive and just enjoy a little splash, but you end up running around the city and attacking people like you’re in a hyper-violent video game.
Don’t be mistaken though, there’s no room for frustration or anger during Songkran. It’s so much fun that if you let yourself get caught up in trivial irritations and become annoyed, you’ll surely be the only frowning human being within the city limits. If you go to Thailand for any reason, it should be to go to Songkran, and experience the most fun you might’ve ever have.