Chinese New Year
In 2009, January 26th is the first day of the First Moon of the Chinese
lunar calendar—the day on which the most significant celebration in the
entire Chinese year takes place, not only in Thailand, but in countries all
over the world. Wherever the Chinese people have settled, no matter where in
China their ancestors lived or how long ago, Chinese New Year will be
celebrated, with all the traditional rituals and trimmings going back over
thousands of years. The rituals themselves are too ancient to be traced back
to their beginnings, and are also referred to as the ‘Spring Festival’.
Even though Chinese New Year celebrations generally only last for several
days, the festival itself usually continues for over 2 weeks. It begins on
the twenty-fourth day of the twelfth lunar month—the day, it is believed,
when various gods ascend to heaven to pay their respects and report on
household affairs to the Jade Emperor, the supreme Taoist deity.
Traditionally, all households honour these gods by burning ritualistic paper
money to provide for their travelling expenses between the home and the
heavens. Another ritual involves smearing malt sugar on the lips of the
Kitchen God, one of the travelling deities, to ensure that he either submits
a favourable report to the Jade Emperor, or keeps silent! One of the most
important religious rituals undertaken at this time is the honouring of the
family’s ancestors, which unites the living family with those who have
Preparations for the festival begin about a month before the actual date,
with presents and decorations being bought, much like our Western Christmas.
Here, perhaps, the similarity ends, as the massive clean-up of Chinese homes
is undertaken to sweep out any bad luck which might have accumulated during
the year, not just to impress guests and relatives! Doors and windows are
given a fresh coat of paint, usually red, and decorated with red paper
decorated with the characters for happiness, wealth and longevity. Family
members who no longer live at home make tremendous efforts to return each
year to celebrate the festival with their parents and relatives. One of the
most important rituals is the honouring of the family’s ancestors.
Even the ingredients for the festive meal served on New Year’s Eve have
their ritual connections to ancient traditions. Dishes served will include
seafood with dumplings, signifying good wishes, prawns for liveliness and
happiness, dried oysters for all things good, raw fish salad for good luck
and prosperity, and angel-hair seaweed, again for prosperity. Guests must
not wear black or white to the dinner, as these colours are associated with
mourning; red, on the other hand, is usually worn as the colour is known to
ward off evil spirits. After dinner, family games are played, or, in these
modern times, special New Year TV programmes are watched by all, with the
celebrations closing at midnight with an extravagant firework display. Many
families will then stay awake all night with the lights on, both to drive
away bad spirits and, it is believed, to ensure the longevity of their
parents. Religious ceremonies may also be held, after midnight, to welcome
the God of the New Year into the house.
On the day itself, ancient custom dictates that married couples present the
unmarried and children with money contained in special red envelopes. The
family will then greet all relatives, friends and neighbours from door to
door, wishing them good fortune and happiness in the New Year. The annual
celebrations end with the Festival of Lanterns, which features a great deal
of singing, dancing and a lantern show. The underlying message of the entire
festival is still, after thousands of years, one of peace and happiness for
family members and friends.
The highly successful ‘That Takes Ovaries’ returns with real-life stories
‘That Takes Ovaries’ is a play, a best selling book and an open mike
movement, all focusing on real-life stories from women and girls and the
gutsy, courageous things they do. It is a dramatic performance depicting the
lives of women who have shown courage in situations involving rape, sexual
and police harassment, suicide, political tyranny and social stigmas from
playful to political. “Ovaries” is full of multicultural, sassy, touching
true tales of deeds.
The play was first performed highly successfully in Chiang Mai last March,
with exclusive rights from its original author for its staging in Thailand.
Directed by Dr. Laura Godtfredsen, and featuring a cast of 14 women, its
impact was such that further performances were decided on. Almost a year
later, the cast is back (including 2 additions) with a new show under the
same title, which will include the real-life stories of events in the lives
of courageous women and men from as far afield as Jordan, India and the
West, as well as from Thailand itself. The play will deal with issues common
to both sexes, and with the personal traumas, self-examination and
development prompted by these both positive and negative life experiences.
‘That Takes Ovaries’ will take place on February 27 and 28, at the AUA
Auditorium, beginning at 7.30. Donations of 350 baht are requested, which
will include a glass of wine or a soft drink; all proceeds will go to
Zonta’s fund for grandmas and their grandchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
Tickets will be available at the Girasole Restaurant, near Ratchadamnoen
Road, and at any of the Rimping supermarkets.
For further information or reservations, please call Dr. Laura on
Romeo and Juliet
– the musical
Two young actors speak about their roles
The Chiang Mai Mail caught up with two of the performers playing the
lead roles of Romeo and Juliet in the Kad Theatre’s world premiere of the
new Thai musical based on the Shakespeare classic. We talked with Romeo,
portrayed by Wongchaikan Wongchan, ‘Ice,’ and Juliet, played by Nalinee Awut
(Emile). What were their overall reactions to the production?
Emile said she was having fun, and is very glad to be a part of this show,
is making new friends, and is learning a lot about the skills necessary in
performing a musical drama. Ice stated that he was getting a lot of valuable
experience in the rehearsals for the show, experience he has never had
before. He’s also happy to work with his new friends and the rest of the
cast, as it is helping to conquer his shyness, and he has learned a lot
about the principles of live theatre. He is thrilled to have this rare
opportunity, and considers he has learned a lot about the meanings behind
some important concepts for actors.
When Emile was asked why she thought she was chosen for the leading role,
she said that she wasn’t sure, but was very happy to have the chance. Ice
added that there were three actors cast for each of the leads, all taking
turns, and that the roles could all be played with different interpretations
– an interesting aspect of the production, although he didn’t always agree
with the other interpretations.
The third and fourth performances of Romeo and Juliet will take place at the
Kad Theatre on January 31, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
We apologise for the printed date as February in the previous issue’s
interview with the composer - details were inaccurate in the original texts
sent by the organisers.
Time on your hands?
Learn a new skill…
Many of us may now find we are free from our busy working lives in
our home countries, and have time on our hands to pursue other activities
and develop our talents in many new ways. One may be painting…not a priority
in our former lives, but something we may have always wanted to try.
ArtSpace on 7’s Laura Spector runs classes which are both educational and
fun, and ease new and aspiring artists into the craft. She has been a
professional artist for over 15 years, has been short-listed for the
Sovereign Asian Art Award, and is acknowledged as having been in the list of
the top 30 artists on Asia for two years in a row. Her own artwork is based
in portraiture. Her workshops run for 5 days and encompass various
disciplines, techniques and mediums, including portraiture and still life
and using both oils and watercolours.
During her portrait workshop, students from beginning to intermediate levels
will review various techniques and materials used to paint a portrait.
Participants will work from a live model as well as creating a
self-portrait. The workshop will take a glimpse at the history of portrait
painting from the ancients to the masters, as well as covering contemporary
artists who capture the human condition through the sitters they paint.
Students will paint a portrait of a live model, creating an unspoken
dialogue between the artist and the model. As they create, they will begin
to determine how subjective that journey may be, how much they can see into
the model and what they learn about themselves along the way. Students will
also paint a self-portrait, a genre which gives artists the greatest freedom
from external constraints. This is the best opportunity to make a favourable
statement or the most penetrating revelation of character of which the
artist is capable. Students will explore hands-on methods of how to
interpret drawings and sketches in preparation for a painting, and will
learn how to activate a composition onto a canvas, techniques of painting
textures and light, basic colour theories, how to interpret the most from a
live model in order to translate the person into paint. All students will
leave with sketches, 2 paintings, and materials to continue painting on
During Laura’s ‘Essentials of the Still Life’ workshop, students from
beginning to intermediate levels will review various techniques and
materials used to paint a still life. Participants will work from a variety
of subjects to learn composition, colour palettes, reflective surfaces and
how to paint fabric, light and texture. The workshops will look at the
history of still life painting from the masters, modernists and contemporary
artists utilizing the concept in their work today. All students will leave
with sketches, 2 paintings and materials to continue painting on their own.
The 5 day workshops run from 2 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. each day, with materials
provided which students take home when the workshop ends, including 2
canvases, paper and charcoal, a set of oil paints, tubes of acrylic paints,
assorted paintbrushes, and palette knives, turpentine, etc. Easels and
palettes are provided, with models scheduled and provided. Fees are 7,000
baht, payable in advance to reserve your easel and purchase the necessary
materials. Space is limited to 5 students per course. For further
information and session dates, please contact Laura on 085-622-6607, or
email on [email protected]