So it’s nearly the end of my first semester here and I haven’t written anything since, well, last year.
This week I’ll keep it simple and less hostile. It will just be about the different ways I have experienced new years depending on whether I’m with my German or Thai family.
In all honesty, I haven’t celebrated new years here in Germany since I was 5, but I always remembered it being spectacular. For dinner we would always have raclette. Simple, yet delicious. But it would not overpower what was to come.
I remember always leaving the house just before midnight to go stand on the hill nearby for a better view. It didn’t matter to me that I was standing in the cold as I knew what would come next would make that all seem irrelevant. Families from all over town would stand nearby, counting down ’til the new year.
Then the first firework went off just above our heads. The colors and lights were absolutely astounding. While adults were cheering to themselves with glasses of champagne, children just stood in awe of what was going on above them. By the time it was over and everyone was on their way home, I always felt a sense of satisfaction, all because of a great amount of explosion.
In Thailand we celebrated completely differently. What to locals is known as Songkran, the tourists and foreigners knew as a nationwide, 3 day water fight. Now this is only made possible because it is celebrated in the middle of April.
Back when I lived in Thailand, I lived in a city called Chiang Mai. It had the perfect design for such a celebration. The entire city was encompassed by a moat. Millions of people from all corners of the world would travel to Thailand just to experience this grand spectacle of a tradition. While most of them walked around with little plastic buckets on strings to scoop up water from the moat, many sat in the backs of pick up trucks with water tanks filled with ice water. Everyone walked around either soaking or being soaked by others.
There was never a single person that didn’t seem to enjoy themselves. Hundreds of people would wish you a happy new year. Complete strangers would give you the warmest of smiles despite being soaked to the skin with ice water. It was amazing to see how happy people could be, and all for the same reason. The colors, the happiness radiating off of everyone, the perfectly timed sun, while not as spectacular as new years in Germany, it was just as beautiful in its own way.