Thai people, aside from enjoying a good time, have a great respect for holidays.
They strictly observe such solemn fêtes as Chinese New Year, Christian New Year, Druid New Year, Halloween (which is Druid New Year, but never mind), and Valentine’s Day. Everyone in Thailand knows that Waa-len-tie is that heart shaped symbol and the celebration is the western world’s tribute to its doctrine of ‘Fee-Sek’.
But a special place is given to Kit-sa-mat. Thai people, very media conscious, know this most western of western holidays is dedicated to shopping. It gives merchants and department stores an opportunity to clear out old stock, and seduces everyone into an orgy of spending.
Thai people think this is sensible, as it makes Khee-niow Farangs part with their money, at least once a year.
How does one know the Christmas season is approaching?
The first is the Christmas song, JINGER BEN. It is played and sung on radio, television, in elevators and Department Stores (usually by the nauseating Ray Coniff Singers). Even the horns of ten wheel trucks play the first eleven notes of this song.
Pardon me if I digress, but JINGER BEN is a demonstration of the true spirit of Christmas. The words were written by the American millionaire, J. Pierpont or J.P. Morgan. Morgan wanted his words set to music and sung at his 60 room mansion on Christmas.
With true Yuletide spirit, Morgan commissioned a starving composer to write the music. He paid the freezing musician US$5. In a burst of inspiration, the immortal ditty was completed in 2 days. No fool, old JP knew he had a major hit on his hands.
Did he commission the composer to write more songs?
Nope. With true penurial, uh, entrepreneurial spirit, he forced the man to sign a contract relinquishing all rights to any proceeds from the song, in perpetuity. Morgan knew that ‘charity begins at home.’
The composer, his five bucks spent, sank back into poverty and died very young.
Ebenezer Scrooge cackled with delight.
I hope this opens up a whole new vista on the idea of giving.
Department Stores stocking their shelves with gigantic stuffed animals is the other sign that Christmas is ‘round the corner.’ The Jurassic Park sized T-bears and Veloci-rabbits terrify young children but are adored by adults.
For a very special person, one of those huge clocks that look like the Statue of Liberty’s ugly sister swinging a mandolin is the non plus ultra of gifts.
That is what Thai people buy each other for Christmas.
Thai people love getting Christmas presents from westerners. This helps the westerner gain great merit and puts them on the path to being a real human being in their next life.
You, as a westerner, will be expected to stick to traditional gifts, though.
The first Christmas gifts were, of course, frankincense, gold and myrrh, which the three Magi offered to the Infant Jesus.
Everyone in the western world thinks of frankincense and myrrh as exotic. Here in Asia, we got loads of the stuff. Frankincense is sold in supermarkets. And myrrh?
Before Colgate invaded, Asians used myrrh to make toothpaste.
Both of these are very expensive in the west. Gold is the cheapest and easiest to find of the three and unlike frankincense and myrrh, you can put it on your Visa or American Express card.
So, to please any Thai ((or Indian) (or Austrian) (or American)), give gold.
Think of the money you’ll be saving!
Your Thai friends won’t feel that you’ve gone to too much trouble looking for expensive, aromatic substances.
And think of the merit you’ll gain.