‘Wan Dek’ literally means ‘Day Children’ and pretty much is what it says on the tin…. a day for the children.
It is celebrated on the second Saturday in January to give children a chance to let loose and have fun whilst creating awareness about how important they are toward the development of Thailand, after all, it will be them who will be running the country in years to come. It’s also used to remind parents to set a good example for their children and that children should show gratitude towards their parents. There is a saying here …
“Children are the future of the nation, if the children are intelligent, the country will be prosperous.”
It was the weekend that we were on our way to Chiang Mai and there seemed to be children EVERYWHERE!!
The King addresses the children and gives advice whilst the Prime Minister usually gives each children’s day a theme and a slogan. Government offices and some military buildings are open to children and their family. There is also a guided tour of the Government House, where children have an opportunity to view the Prime Minister’s office and sit at the bureau. Many organizations have celebration activities for children. Children can enter zoos or ride buses for free.
However I was quite unaware of just how a big Children’s Day was until the following Friday at school as due to inspections the week before we could not celebrate on the day. As we were leaving on the Thursday afternoon we were told to go buy a small gift to bring in for the next day. So I bought a teddy bear and two big packets of sweets. As we arrived at school on the Friday we were told- Classes Cancelled!! And it was WILD!
My desk is located right beside the primary 1 classes and you could see them start the day by clearing the desks away and laying out a massive feast of every kind of food with sugar in it you could imagine, Ice cream was dished out at 10AM…. yes 10am in the morning! Children were allowed to spend their time having fun, they could play games, sing karaoke, stuff their faces or watch movies. It was quite a sight to see and the only thought I had in my head was “I am SO glad I am not teaching you guys when all 1500 children are on a sugar high!”
After lunch everyone was called to the inside assembly area. 1500 kids all crammed into one big room was quite a feat!! By this point all children had exchanged gifts in their own classrooms however now was the time for the raffle.
Six tables were put out filled with presents. One for each grade and a raffle held pulling names out of the corresponding grade.
Then came for the mixed prizes where all the remaining names were put into one big box … this was unreal. Literally hundreds of small toys lined the length of the stage and then the six main prizes…. Mountain bikes!! Clearly money had been spent on the children! Whilst the raffle was on going there were singers and dancers entertaining the audience!
It was quite an experience and one that was really nice to see, the children are all worked so hard here and its nice to see them getting a break to sit and enjoy being a child!