Loy Krathong is a Buddhist festival in Thailand that is celebrated on the full moon of the 12th month of the traditional Thai calendar. This usually falls sometime in mid to late November, it is also called the Festival of Lights. This ancient holiday is celebrated with fireworks, sky lanterns, and Krathongs.
In Chiang Mai during the week of Loy Krathong, the whole city celebrates with a parade, beauty pageants, lanterns, krathongs, fireworks, and Lanna entertainment. Lights and decorations can be found everywhere.
The most common way of celebrating the holiday is by building a ‘Krothong’ or floating offering. Once decorated, locals will release the krathongs into lakes or down rivers, effectively letting go of anger, hatred, or any negative thought, thus clearing their slate and starting anew.
We celebrated in a similar way at my school by each making Krathongs. We started the process with a thick slice of trunk from a banana tree. Then, we decorated the Krathong any way we wanted. Usually banana leaves are used along with flowers, candles, and incense. These are held onto the banana trunk using pins and staples (somehow none of my students were injured during this.) Most Thai people include a piece of hair or fingernail to symbolize letting go of the piece of them that is their negativity. Once the krathong is finished a prayer or wish is said, then it is lit and put into a river or lake.
How we celebrated Loy Krathong
Keith and I celebrated Loy Krathong for a couple days, but our favorite was a night we celebrated at the river front in Chiang Mai. Some friends coincided the opening of their new restaurant on the Ping river with Loy Krathong. They had delicious food, drinks, lanterns, and krathongs for sale. We brought our krathongs that we made at school to light and release into the river. The locals set off massive fireworks that were mostly homemade and definitely not up to US code. The people set up on each side of the river firing fireworks across to the other side so from a distance it looked like a east and west river bank firework war. As the night went on, hundreds of lit krathongs released up stream floated by the restaurant as thousands of lanterns and fireworks lit up the sky. It was a spectacular night and it is easy tell how Loy Krathong received its nickname as the Festival of Lights.