A country of countless palm tree-lined islands and just as many friendly smiles, Thailand boasts a rich and vibrant culture steeped in thousands of years of tradition. So, it’s little wonder this Southeast Asian nation has contributed to global culture in a variety of rich ways including spicy, curried cuisine. But there’s much more to this land than just unforgettable eats and treats.
Come along with us on a mini-adventure through Thai culture for family travelers.
A Land of Many Colors
From the right power palette for a job interview to the hues of your favorite baseball team, color can communicate many messages. This proves no less true when it comes to Thai culture and traditions. Thai color symbolism draws inspiration from Hindu mythology, which even assigned lucky colors to each day of the week.
- Red for Sundays
- Yellow and cream for Mondays
- Pink for Tuesdays
- Green (daytime) and gray (nighttime) for Wednesdays
- Orange and brown for Thursdays
- Light blue for Fridays
- Purple and black for Saturdays
Besides wearing auspicious colors depending on the day of the week, color also represents an expression of patriotism. For example, Thais wear yellow on Father’s Day to honor the king of Thailand who was born on a Monday. They wear light blue on Mother’s Day to honor the queen, born on a Friday. Personal astrology can even play a role in the color that an individual chooses to put on.
Muay Thai and the Land of the Free
Apart from delectable Thai cuisine, the martial art known as Muay Thai proves one of Thailand’s most recognizable exports to the US and beyond. Steeped in age-old tradition, Muay Thai remains an essential aspect of local culture. Many kids begin training at a young age, but it requires years of dedicated practice and learning to master the moves that transform one’s body into both a shield and a weapon.
The practice began in royal households with Thai kings trained in the tradition. But over the generations, Muay Thai transformed into a standard form of military training as well as a spectator sport. Thailand has many nicknames including the “Land of Smiles” and the “Land of the Free.” In the minds of the Thai people, the latter title is the direct result of generations worth of skilled leaders and warriors trained in Muay Thai.
Muay Thai also proves a deeply spiritual practice. In fact, religion remains tightly interwoven into every aspect of daily life in Thailand. The sacredness of the practice is evidenced in a pre-fight ceremony as well as the traditional garb worn by Thai fighters. What’s more, monks often become Muay Thai masters, passing on their interwoven religious beliefs and fighting techniques.
The Rice Bowl of Asia
Did you know that Thailand is known as the “rice bowl of Asia”? Or, that more than 3,500 varieties of rice grow there? This precious grain remains the single most consumed food in the nation. But the Thai appreciation of rice runs much deeper than a mere nutritional staple. It has acquired the same type of deep cultural significance associated with bread in France or olives in Greece. In essence, rice is life.
The importance of rice to Thai culture gets highlighted annually on May 5th during Jarod Pranangkan Raenakwan or the Royal Ploughing Ceremony. Originally from India, this ancient ceremony celebrates the life cycle of rice and the farmers who carefully cultivate it. It sets the stage for what locals hope will be a bountiful harvest later.
Rice has held a cherished place in Thai culture for thousands of years. In fact, the grain’s importance to the country precedes the arrival of Buddhism. What’s more, it holds deep spiritual associations and is even considered to have a soul.
This soul is personified in Mae Posopor the “Rice Mother.” The cycle of her life follows that of the rice grain itself. Born from rice, she becomes pregnant at the time that the rice plant flowers and later gives birth to next year’s crop. Because of the sacred nature of rice, when it accidentally gets spilled, Thai locals pick it up with reverent care.
Thai Culture for Family Travelers
We’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to Thai culture for family travelers. Steeped in thousands of years of history and tradition, this colorful nation boasts a vibrant heritage and one that still informs many aspects of daily life. Yet, Thai life is also laid back and relaxed. This is exemplified in its national motto: “Mai pen rai.” This roughly translates as, “Don’t worry” or “It’s okay.”
This chill attitude combined with the accessible cost of travel, great weather, and endless opportunities for adventure make a family trip to Thailand the perfect time to follow Bobby McFerrin’s iconic advice: “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Are you and your family ready for the vacation of a lifetime? Why not put a Thailand family vacation at the top of your list? Check out our Thailand & Cambodia Family Adventure, a culturally rich, kid-friendly way to visit some of the most extraordinary destinations in Southeast Asia.
At Our Whole Village, we craft transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for curious families just like yours.