Last year as we started planning our trip around the world, I had read about a celebration that takes place in Thailand in November: Loy Krathong. The dates of Loy Krathong change every year. It falls on the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, after the rainy season has ended.
What is a Krathong?
A “Krathong” is a lotus-shaped raft that floats on water. It’s made of the banana trunk and decorated with leaves, flowers, 3 incense sticks and a candle. Luckily now Krathongs are more environment friendly. In the past years they were mainly made of styrofoam. Today it isn’t allowed anymore as they pollute the water and are difficult to decompose. You will find more bread Krathongs which are environmentally friendly since they are biodegradable and usually eaten by fish.
“Loy” means to float and a “Krathong” is a small handmade boat traditionally made from a section of banana tree trunk. So “Loy Krathong” means “to float little ships made from banana leaves”.
Why float a Loy Krathong?
Floating a Loy Krathong has different meanings. The most important is to give thanks to the goddess of water. To apologize for polluting her waters and to ask for forgiveness for taking water from the rivers all year-long.
Another reason is to symbolically ‘float away’ all the anger and grudges you have held onto. This is why you usually include a fingernail and a lock of hair. It is a way of letting go of the dark side of yourself and start a new year free of negative feelings.
If your candle stays lit until your Krathong disappears out of sight, it means a year of good luck.
Our Loy Krathong experience
During the time of the festival we were still in Krabi. We were trying to figure out where to go to see it and where to get some Loy Krathongs for our kids. The host of the house we were staying at, invited us to join him and his wife during the making of the Loy Krathongs. Little did we know that they were actually organizing this for us!
When we reached the pool in the garden of the property, we found the table full of banana leaves, pieces of banana trunk and flowers. We sat down with them and they taught us how to fold the banana leaves to create the lotus shape. Mine was not perfect, but worked out for me!
The base of Loy Krathong is a slice of banana tree, while banana leaves are woven around to make the lotus flower shape. Inside, flowers are arranged around a candle and three sticks of incense.
They helped us complete our little Krathongs. Of course they did it so fast and easily. It felt so natural for them. When you are used to do it every year it becomes pretty easy and natural!
Our kids Loy Krathong creations
Cosimo was very fast at making his. He loved the fact that it was going to be his own so he could do it as he wanted.
Emma, on the other hand got a little stuck in making the lotus shaped flower. Once I reminded her that it was her own and she should be as creative as she wanted, everything changes! She disappeared for a while and returned with all kind of flowers found on the ground and completed it exactly as she imagined it. We all got in the spirit and personalized them as much as felt fit for our personality. It was an unforgettable experience!
Learning the Loy Krathong song
Once we had completed our little floats, they taught us the song and dance for the Loy Krathong. Cosimo was really having fun learning (the music in the video is really low but it was playing as they were dancing)! During the event we actually saw people turn the song on their phone and sing it all together as they released their Loy Krathongs. It was much more fascinating to see since we were familiar with the song. It actually got stuck in our heads for days!
We spent a beautiful afternoon sharing with our hosts such a special tradition, laughter and really connected. We also overcame a bit of a language barrier! Our hearts were full! We later realized that for us the most special and memorable moment of the festival actually happened that afternoon while we making loy krathongs together with this family.
The night of Loy Krathong
The night of the festival, we shared this time with some new friends who we had met just a few weeks before.
We arrived at Krabi City and started seeing people setting up tables along the river with krathongs to sell. Next to the tables there were more people still making them. No krathong is alike, some are very creative! It was fun to see all the variations of colors, flowers, sizes and just concept. The best part of it is that now they are more environment friendly too!
Apparently Loy Krathong begins at “midnight”, but we had seen people launching their krathongs constantly. I’m not sure if it was because of younger kids not handling well a late night release (mine wouldn’t….)or maybe because of the tide, but after sundown krathongs started floating in the water.
So we all headed close to the water, cut a piece of nail and hair and added it to each of our krathongs. We lit our candles and incense also if the wind made it a bit challenging and let them go…..mine got stuck next to a boat, but eventually moved along with the others…..
There is something special of participating in another culture’s tradition.
We are so used to our own traditions that we forget that there are so many cultures around the world. All with different traditions and beliefs. It is remarkable to have the chance to experience this at least once in your life.
It is amazing to have the opportunity to observe, learn, participate (when possible) and share the moment with people from a different culture. In that moment you realize that all you really want is to be connected also if for a short time.
Krabi Green Hill Pool Villas
Through our travels we have come to realize that a place isn’t only special for the stars it has or how much it costs but also for who works there or who owns it. Their attitude towards you can truly make the difference on how pleasant your stay will be. Krabi Green Hill Pool Villas was extremely a very welcoming and friendly environment. The staff was kind and friendly and the owners always went out of their way to make sure your stay was lovely. That is probably why we prolonged out stay an extra 4 days!
Our kids also loved the fact that if we didn’t feel like going to the beach, we could still jump into the pool!