The Celebration of Christmas in Thailand is an institution of the church. It does not center around the family as it does in America. Decorating the home and preparing home-coming dinners for Christmas is foreign to Thailand. It is the custom here for young and old to gather together for a church-centered celebration. Last year our Christmas activities lasted about two weeks as Christians went from one church or Christian center to another to help one another celebrate.
On December 19, the young people had a joint dinner and party. On December 21, the Thai church in Nakon Pathom gave a feast which was attended by about one hundred fifty Christians. Besides the local members, visitors came from Sam Yek, Ban Pong, Bangkok, Hua Phai, and Lumphai. Following the feast, KIu Shalot (manager of the Nakon Pathom boys’ school and elder in the Thai church) led the special worship service. The church was beautifully decorated with garlands of crepe paper, full-size manger scene, and a Christmas tree. All these decorations were handmade by the young people from Sam Yek.
After the worship service the Christians joined with four or five hundred non-Christians to see two plays presented on a specially built stage in the yard of the girls’ school. The young people of Sam Yek, under the leadership of missionary Richard Carlson, presented the story of the Nativity. The youth group in Nakon Pathom, directed by Frances Sams, presented a pageant about “The Spirit of Christmas.”
On Sunday morning, the twenty-second, twelve people were baptized in the Thai church in N akon Pathom. On Sunday afternoon a bus was rented by the Christians from Nakon Pathom, who wanted to share with worshipers in Ban Pong as their Christmas activities got under way at the street chapel there. In Sam Yek on December 23 and 24, the school, the young people’s group, and the Christians joined with visitors in a program which included a pageant, games, and all-night caroling.
A high point in the Christmas activities comes on Christmas Eve as large groups of young people take part in an all-night carol sing. They walk from house to house, honoring Christians and non-Christians alike as they sing the songs of the birth of the Savior.
In the course of the night’s activities last year, they called on most of the Christian families. Many of these families had not gone to bed, since they often prepare hot drinks, candy, and cakes for the group of singers. At midnight, the group called on the newly elected representative to the Senate from this area. He was a former student from our boys’ school. He was high in his praise for the school and for what Christianity had done for Thailand.
At three A.M., the party awakened the governor. He came out and wished the church, the mission, and each and every family a happy and prosperous Christmas season and new year.
At four A.M., they called on the manager of the bank. He was not a Christian, but he had prepared cakes and hot tea for the group. He stated that he felt honored that the Christians would come to his home and ask that God’s blessing be given to him for the coming year.
By the time the group finished their singing tour at eight thirty A.M. on Christmas Day, many of us who had been with them throughout the night had one big Christmas Day wishfor a long winter nap. Such is the way Christmas is celebrated in Thailand.