Loi Krathong

“November full moon shine,

Loi Kratong, Loi Kratong,

and the waters high

in the gold river and the Klong.

Loi Loi Kratong, Loi Loi Kratong

Loi Kratong is here and everybody’s filled with cheer.

Together at the Klong, each one with his kratong

As we push away, we pray,

we will see a better day.”

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The krathongs floating down the Nan River.

Imagine… you live in Thailand. You teach 250 second and third graders. A Thai holiday, called Loi Kratong is on Monday and you are excited to see all the little kratongs floating down the river. As an additional lesson plan, your Thai co-teacher suggests teaching your students a cute Loi Kratong song translated into English. You decided this is a great idea and proceed to teach the song to your students.The song gets stuck in your head because its catchy and cute.

3 am in the morning. You get up to go to the bathroom. You begin to sing the Loi Kratong song because it pops into your head.

That day. You go around teaching classes while muttering the Loi Krathong song under your breath.

2 days later. Google search: How to get a song out of your head so that you don’t have to go to a mental institution?

Listen to the song at your own peril.

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Third graders Khaofang 1, Plaifon, and Junior pose with their krathongs.

Loi Kratong is a beautiful Thai festival that occurs on the full moon in the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar (usually in November). Traditionally, people bring krathongs made out of bread or banana leaves and flowers to the river, where they make a wish and watch the krathongs float away. Generally, it coincides with another Lanna (Northern Thai) holiday called Yi Peng, or as the Lantern Holiday.  Beautiful, floating lanterns are released into the sky. It is very Frozen-esk. 

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On Monday morning, we got to miss two periods of class (yay!) to go with all of our students to the Nan river (I think about 1600 students). There were vendors selling kratongs all over Nan, and students also made their own. Unfortunately, because of the King’s passing, there was not a huge parade or festival as there normally is…. it just means I will have to come back next year! Each student proceeded to the river where they said a small prayer and placed their krathong in the river. Soon the river was totally clogged with krathongs, definitely environmentally suspect though I think most of the krathongs are made with biodegradable material. 

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Plaifon, my three grader!

That night, I went back to the river to watch the candle-lit krathongs floating down the river and the lanterns rising in the sky. Even though there was a no fireworks rule because of the King, there were still small, sparkly fireworks. They went off right next to where we were sitting and I could feel the ash fall on me afterwards…. it would never be allowed in America. There were very few lanterns this year, again I think because of the kid, but it was during the super moon, which created a beautiful backdrop for the lanterns.

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Silly students!

I liked the idea of making a wish and watching it float into the air or down the river. It seemed like my wishes were joining something a bit bigger than me. Definitely an existential moment. Which has been happening a lot more lately as this year creeps to an end. 

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