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Many activities have been planned in Bangkok and other major provinces in celebration of the upcoming Chinese New Year and to welcome the Year of the Dragon. This years Chinese New Year’s Day falls on January 23.
In the provinces, grand celebrations will take place in Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi, Ayutthaya, Chon Buri, especially Pattaya, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phuket, and Songkhla, in Hat Yai district in particular.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has been invited to preside over the opening of the Bangkok Chinatown Festival 2012 on January 23 at 5:00 p.m, taking place at the King’s Birthday Celebration Arch at Odean; the arch was built to commemorate His Majesty’s 72nd birthday anniversary in 1999.
Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown, is the focal point of celebrations in the capital
The festival, which will run for two days, includes such interesting activities as a lion dance contest, kung-fu boxing, Chinese opera, and other cultural shows. One of the highlights will be special performances sponsored by China’s Ministry of Culture, which provides performers for only five countries on Chinese New Year.
Apart from Thailand, the other four countries are Australia, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Bangkok’s Chinatown is an old business center, covering a large area around Yaowarat and Charoen Krung roads. In this area, there are many small streets and alleys full of shops and wholesale and retail outlets selling all kinds of goods. Bangkok’s Chinatown is famous for its gold shops, restaurants, and food stalls offering numerous delicacies.
Although it is normally a congested area and a busy part of town, the Chinese New Year Festival provides visitors a chance to walk along the streets without worrying about traffic. Some experts in feng shui, the traditional Chinese art of geomancy, compare the curving shape of Yaowarat Road with the dragon’s sinuous body. The traffic flow on Yaowarat is one-way, and from the head of the dragon to the tail, there are cars running day and night, as if it were a live dragon, moving all the time.
A paradise for shoppers, Bangkok’s Chinatown, the mythical “golden dragon” packed into a couple of square kilometers, is the center where Thai-Chinese people have played a part in strengthening Thailand’s economy and culture for a long period. The Tourism Authority of Thailand believes that at least 300,000 tourists from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore will visit Thailand to celebrate Chinese New Year. It is expected that more than 200 charter flights will bring Chinese tourists to Thailand, especially to Phuket province, during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
The Cabinet, during its meeting on January 10, decided to declare Chinese New Year Day a public holiday in the four southern border provinces of Pattani, Satun, Yala, and Narathiwat. The decision is the first move ever to recognize Chinese New Year as a public holiday in Thailand. The observance of Chinese New Year Day in the four provinces will begin on January 23 this year.
In 2012, Thailand and China will be celebrating the 37th anniversary of the re-establishment of Thai-Chinese relations on 1 July 1975.
Chinese New Year celebrations to mark the arrival of the Year of the Dragon are expected to be even more significant and special because they overlap with three other auspicious occasions being celebrated by the Thai people in 2012. These are the 85th birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Rama IX, the 80th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, and the 60th birthday of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Both countries are working together to jointly host a spectacular Sino-Thai cultural showcase entitled “From the Huang Ho (Yellow River) to the Chao Phraya River Basin”. The program will feature a rich tapestry of Chinese cultural performances and performing arts dating back two centuries, and a magnificent program of classical and traditional Thai performing arts. This cultural extravaganza will also be making its way to the 11 Thai provinces with established Thai-Chinese communities.
Other festival highlights and activities to welcome the Year of the Dragon include a traditional lion dance, the procession of the mythical golden dragon, live demonstrations depicting Chinese traditions and the Thai-Chinese way of life unique to Bangkok’s Chinatown, a food festival, stalls offering popular Thai and Chinese delicacies as well as local community products, and exhibitions of various interesting aspects of Samphanthawong district and Yaowarat, including its fascinating history. Traditional Chinese New Year theme decorations consisting of Chinese paper lanterns, paper cut-outs of popular Chinese auspicious phrases, vases of pretty plum blossoms, platters of oranges and tangerines and various other items considered symbolic of success, good fortune and prosperity, good health and longevity add to the festive feel of the occasion.
Chinese New Year celebrations and festivities in the 11 other provinces will also be in the form of themed events including cultural performances direct from China, traditional and contemporary Thai and Chinese shows and stage performances, and displays of Chinese traditions, art and culture.