National Children’s Day 2017

By Kevin Cain

Saturday, January the 9th heralds National Children’s Day in Thailand, and this year Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha has created the slogan, “Knowledge and virtue together will move us into the future”.

Commonly known as Wan Dek which means Day Children, the day was introduced with the premise that all parents must set a good example for their young sons and daughters, and in return the children should show gratitude to their parents.As with all Thai celebrations on such matters, Sanuk will play a great part in the day. Most explanations of Sanuk are simply to have fun, but there is a little more to it than that. Sanuk is trying to achieve whatever you are doing in life, and whilst doing so injecting pleasure and fun into the equation.

Thai Children are no less materialistic than kids from anywhere else in the world, and when a Bangkok survey asked what they wanted for Children’s Day the predictable responses of toys, smart-phones and computers etc were high on the responses.

However many Thai youngsters also said that they wanted happiness, love from their parents and peace and unity in Thailand. The children were also asked by the survey, “How should your parents show a good example to you?” and apparently over 90% of the kids answered by saying their parents should show loyalty to the monarchy.

Children’s Day since its foundation in 1955, is now firmly established in Thailand’s event calendar and is a celebration of the Children of Thailand as an asset to the kingdom and the realisation that they are also the future.During the day, kids do not have to pay for train or bus transport, plus many attractions and amenities are either reduced or free for entry. The entire day is about having fun with activities, getting out and about and most importantly about children and families interacting with each other.

Here in Pattaya in the past, tents have been set up along Pattaya North Road in front of City Hall, where most of the fun is centered. Two years ago Pattaya Park had a free admission policy for children, and also in the past kids could watch helicopter landings at U-tapao Airport.Prior to the actual Saturday, most schools in Pattaya will have their own celebrations either on the Thursday or Friday. The events organised differ wildly depending on the imagination of the planners, but they all include group activities with the focus on fun and togetherness.

Children’s Day in Thailand is just as much a celebration from the adult community of the nation to say to their kids how much the country values them rather than simply an excuse to lavish expensive gifts on their offspring. As a big kid myself, I am looking forward to the day immensely. I just hope that my stamina can compete with the youngsters, who I know will be as effervescent as a bottle of shaken Cola.