Tag Archives: New Year Traditions

Songkran: Water Festival for the New Year

Opportunity to Bless greeting cardThe New Year is celebrated in Thailand from April 13 through April 15. The name for the festival, Songkran, means “astrological passage” and refers to the entry of the sun into the sign of Aries, the start of the zodiac.

Water is an important symbol of the festival, signifying both purification and renewal. Water is poured over statues of Buddha. Young people wash the palms of their elders with scented water. Water fights break out in the streets: buckets of water and water guns are employed to get everyone wet.

Young girls purchase small live fish and take them to the river to set them free. The same is done with songbirds. Along the river banks, people build pyramids of sand into which they stick tiny colored flags. The newest customs include beauty festivals to choose a Miss Songkran and gifts of towels (to sop up all the water). Continue reading

Alasitas: Abundance In The New Year

ou Can Heal Your Life 2016 wall calendar by Amber Lotus Publishing

Artwork by Joan Perrin-Falquet from our You Can Heal Your Life 2016 wall calendar. Click image for more info.

In La Paz, Bolivia, the new year is welcomed with the month-long festival of Alasitas. The festival has its roots in the custom of the indigenous people, the Aymara, who prayed for good crops in the coming year and gave each other gifts. In pre-conquest times, these gifts were often miniatures representing what people would like to receive or achieve in the new year.

Leslie Jamison writes about this tradition in The Empathy Exams: “For three weeks, the markets around the Parque Urbano are full of tiny objects, tiny everything: tiny horses, tiny computers, tiny diplomas, tiny houses, tiny Jeeps, tiny llamas and tiny llama steaks, tiny passports.” Continue reading