New Year celebrations on the Thai-Burma Border

Dear friends,

First all our apologies for not posting any news since before Christmas. Plenty has happen at Studio Xang Maesot and Sunrise School (Yaung Ni Oo school) in Mae La Oon refugee camp.

The first thing that happened in December was that Studio Xang in Maesot was burgled. Instead of bringing us things, Father Christmas got it all wrong and took all our equipment away.

The computers, printer and camera that we used for the Picture Pal project with Sundorne Art department. We have been doing some fund-raising since to try to replace it but it is slow.

This explains why you haven't seen anything new and our students in Maesot haven't been able to see all the great posts on the blog you have made. But we are printing everything out onto paper and sending it to Maesot in the meantime.

From November to April, there are many festivals over here.

Where we live is very multi cultural and each ethnic group celebrates New Year at a different date. This year, the old Northern Thai New year know as the Loi Kratong festival was on the full moon days of the 20th and 21st of November. This is a very famous festival in Thailand. People go to the rivers with floats made out of banan tree trunks and leaves, decorated with flowers and candles. The float or " Kratong" is released on the river.

This gesture is a way of thanking Water for giving us life and crops, and apologising for making it dirty. We also believe that by taking our Kratong away, the river takes away all the bad luck we faced during the previous year.

This year there were special decorations around the moat old city. This is the northern gate,called Chang Peuak, the gate of the White elephant which chose the location of the city at time of King Mengrai. 

Shan New Year was on the 7th of December, Karen New Year was before Christmas, Akha New Year was on the 29th of December. Hmong New Year just past, early this January and of course there was Western New Year. The dates for local new year are calculated with a lunar calendar, unlike the western calendar which uses the sun as a reference.

Traditional game competition: running with one leg tied to one's partners

Evening Music and dances performances

As everywhere, celebration is about good food!

Shan Noddle stall

The Shan New Year celebration took place in the Shan temple grounds

By the way, celebrating New Year on different days also means that we are in different years.

The official year in Thailand is 2554 and the year in Shan calendar is 2105.

Traveling in time might be easier than one might think!

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