National Children’s Day is a day to celebrate children, recognize their importance in Thai society, and most importantly, to have lots and lots of fun!
National Children’s Day is held every year on the second Saturday in January. Although not technically a national holiday, the day is celebrated throughout Thailand. Businesses put on events with games and activities (magic shows, contests, workshops, parades, etc.); and many zoos, museums, and other attractions offer free admission to children.
Many government offices, which are usually not open to the public, are open on Children’s Day for children and their family to visit. Children can take a guided tour of the Government House (office of the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers–similar to visiting the White House in the US), and this year the Government House lawn was turned into a dinosaur theme park. The Royal Thai Air Force puts on an air show and allows children to explore the aircrafts up close.
There is clearly a lot going on to celebrate being a child in Thailand.
Every year the Prime Minister announces a motto for Children’s Day. This year’s motto was:
เด็กดี หมั่นเพียร เรียนรู้ สู่อนาคต
“Good children are diligent and crave for learning, for a bright future.”
Since Children’s Day falls on a Saturday, our school celebrated by having a big party on Friday afternoon.
The P5 students organized the games, and the P6 students were in charge of the gift swap. Every student and teacher brought in a wrapped gift (worth at least 50 baht,or ~$1.50) that could be for anyone at the party (students aged 1-12, teachers, or parents). Jake and I settled on some really beautiful, decorative notebooks since a notebook is age appropriate for just about anyone, and our students are drawing every chance they get.
The P6 students numbered every gift and made a chandelier with hanging paper hearts. At some point during the party everyone picked a heart, and the number inside determined which gift we received.
One of the P3 students traded her original gift for my notebook, and ran over to show me how excited she was. Jake got a Mickey Mouse pencil case, and I got some sort of Thai educational computer game–both were clearly intended for Thai children.
The most interesting part of this party though, were the games. There were games planned for every single grade, from nursery 1 (1-2 year old babies) all the way up to P6 (11-12 year olds), and every single one was extremely entertaining.
Nursery 1 had what I am calling “baby races”. One to two year olds “raced” across the yard–guided mostly by the older students and teachers.
Inevitably this results in one child racing towards the finish line; a few children taking a few careful steps forward and then either freezing in fear, or backing up slowly; and the rest running off in every possible direction other than towards the finish line.
Nursery 2’s game (2-3 year olds) involved picking up various balloons and putting them in colorful, plastic bins–essentially cleaning up. They also needed quite a bit of help.
Kindergarten 1 (K1) had an actual eating contest. The 3-4 year olds stuffed their faces to see who could finish their snack bar the fastest. This was hilarious, and it took the foreign teachers a few minutes to figure out exactly what was going on.
K2 and K3 students (4-5 year olds and 5-6 year olds respectively) played musical chairs.
Prathom 1 (also called Primary 1, P1, or 1st grade) raced across the yard to scoop up water from a bin, carry it back to the start, and see which team could fill up their water bottle the fastest.
The P2 students (2nd grade) each wrapped a balloon around their ankle and tried to pop each other’s balloon with their feet. The last one with their balloon still intact wins!
P3 and P4 had some sort of flour-blowing race. The students lined up (girls first, then boys), raced across the yard, and then competed to see who could blow all of the flour off of a paper plate the fastest. This results in a huge cloud of flour, and flour all over the face and hair of everyone participating.
P5 students MC’ed the event and helped organize and set up all of the games throughout the party–so I guess that’s why they didn’t have their own game.
Finally, P6 competed in limbo, where the girls were way better than the boys.
Every student received a gift after playing the game, plus their gift swap gift, and then additional gifts were given out throughout the party as well. So every child left with their arms overflowing in presents.
Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, myself included.
How did you celebrate National Children’s Day? If you’re not in Thailand, does your country have a similar holiday? Let me know what you think in the comments below!