Loi Krathong (orthographied in various ways!), known as ‘the festival of lights,’ is an old Thai tradition that occurs each year in Thailand during the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, which usually falls in November. The name of this festival translates literally as ‘floating decoration, ‘ Loi meaning to float, while Krathong refers to the lotus-shaped container usually made of floating bamboo or a slice of a banana tree trunk which floats on the water. Loi Krathong is celebrated nationwide and gathers millions of people along the canals and rivers of Thailand, where one can see beautiful sceneries of floating kratongs decorated with flowers, candles, and incense – sometimes food and coins, too!
Loy Krathong celebration in Chiang Mai
Explanations about origins of Loi Kratong vary, but the most popular legend is that the festival exists for the Thai people to ask for forgiveness and to express their gratitude to Phra Mae Kongka, the Thai goddess of water, for having extensively used and polluted the water from the rivers and canals. Others believe that this festival is a tribute of respect to Buddha. Though there have always been divergent beliefs about the origins of the festival, we know that Loi Kratong first began during the 13th century in the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai. Nowadays, Loi Kratong is a great occasion for people to get festive, to celebrate, and to make wishes. This year saw the country full of celebrations, live music and dancing, beauty contests, and fireworks.
Students preparing their krathongs
On Friday the 15th, our Half Day School students were taught about the history of the holiday and discussed more of Thai culture. Then they were shown how to make krathongs from natural biodegradable materials in order to prevent excess waste during the festival. Our students spent the afternoon preparing and crafting their own krathongs. They had a lot of fun cutting and shaping loads of banana leaves and decorating them with flowers, candles, and incense. The students were encouraged to go out during the weekend to release their krathongs on the Sai River and the Chonprathaan Canal in Mae Sai, and to celebrate with their families.
The Half Day School in Mae Sai provides free education as well as vocational training, lunch, and playtime for over 100 students. A typical day of our students is divided into two parts. In the morning, students study regular academic subjects, including: English, Thai, Chinese, math, science, and social studies. In the afternoon, students learn vocational skills such as weaving, sewing, and cooking. They also participate in sports, art, and life skills training including health, diet, and hygiene.
The Half Day School also provides all of our students with a healthy, nutritious lunch. Please support us in keeping the students healthy and happy by donating here. You can simply choose an amount to go directly to the lunch program. Thank you all for your invaluable support and donations!