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In Thailand, Santa Claus plays a role in the annual New Year's Day celebration on January 1st. Yet this is only one of several yearly New Year's holidays in this ancient Asian country. In April the Thais celebrate Songkran, or Thai New Year. What's more, the Chi- nese population marks the Chinese New Year in February
Both the Christian and Thai calendars change to the New Year on January 1st, although the Buddhist era of the Thai calendar is 543 years older than the one we know as "A.D." In addition to Santa Claus' visit, January 1st finds homes and classrooms decorated with New Year's trees, and Thais exchange cards and gifts to honor the occasion. Then in April, for Songkran, Thais clean their houses inside and out to wash away the old year, then bathe themselves and pour water over the Buddha image to start the new year fresh.
Like Western Santas, Thailand's St. Nick often wears a bright red costume - but his is likely to be adorned with elegant Asian motifs rather than fur trim. We see Santa carrying a decorated staff as well as a basket laden with special gifts hand-chosen for the children he will soon visit.
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