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Fun festivals

Treats, water fights and rockets — 5 Asian holidays that’ll make you want to celebrate!

Published on May 04, 2022
A young girl spraying water from a large water gun.
Spraying water at people in Bangkok, Thailand, to celebrate Songkran. (Jewel Samad/AFP via Images)

Asia is such a huge place. From Vietnam to Myanmar, from India to Japan, there are hundreds of different ways people celebrate holidays!

Just remember that festivals and celebrations will look different this year. People will be wearing masks and will likely practice physical distancing, or avoiding huge crowds altogether.

Check out some of these cool festivals and holidays throughout Asia and how they are traditionally observed.

Tet — Vietnam

Child hugs grandad; grandad holds red envelopes for Lunar New Year.

A grandfather holds li xi, which are red envelopes with lucky money inside, to give to grandson as a gift for Lunar New Year. (marctran/123RF)

Celebrated in January or February, Tet is also known as Vietnamese Lunar New Year! It’s a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next.

It’s full of amazing foods like Banh chung (say “beng jung”), a delicious sticky rice cake with pork and beans, and fancy trays of candied fruit called Mut Tet (say “moot tet”).

But the best part is every adult gives all the kids they know li xi (say “lee see”), which are red pockets full of very lucky money! What would you spend your lucky money on?

Holi — India

A girl is covered in pink, purple and yellow powder during Holi

Check out those yellows, purples and pinks! And there are even more colours like blue, green and orange. (Rafiq Maqbool/AP Photo)

Also known as the festival of colours, during Holi friends and family decorate and play with each other with different types of colour using gulal or abir; traditional names for coloured powders. You can even throw water balloons filled with colours too!

Holi happens every year in February or March, and it's a time to make new friends, and make peace with those around you. By the end of the night, you can also enjoy sweets over a huge bonfire.

Which colour would be your favourite to throw during Holi?

Songkran — Thailand

the streets of bangkok are soaked after water fights for Songkran

The streets of Bangkok are soaked with all the water fights to celebrate Songkran! (Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images)

Every April, Thailand has a nationwide water fight known as Songkran (say “saang-kran”) or Buddhist New Year. Water guns, water balloons and even elephants are all fair game!

But it’s not just for fun, splashing water is a symbol of washing away bad luck of the past year and welcoming a fresh start.

During this time, many people in Thailand visit Buddhist temples, spend time with family and participate in parades, boat races and more! To wish in a happy new year, try saying “Sawasdee Pee Mai!” (say “sa-wad-dee pii my”).

What kind of water fight would you and your friends have during Songkran? Get creative!

Sapporo Snow Festival — Japan

A Star Wars sculpture made of snow that towers over visitors to the snow festival

A Star Wars snow sculpture at the festival in 2015. Look how big it is! (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images)

Celebrated once a year in Japan, the Sapporo Snow Festival is all about giant snow and ice sculptures. The festival was started in the 1950s by six high school students who made snow sculptures that attracted 50,000 people!

Today, sculptures keep getting bigger, with some over 15 metres tall (that’s like three giraffes standing on top of each other)! Sculptors make animals, cartoon characters and even full buildings.

And don’t forget the giant snow slides, snow rafting, snow mazes and other amazingly fun snowy activities! There are over 30,000 tons of snow to play with!

What kind of sculpture would you make? The snow’s the limit!

Boun Bang Fai — Laos and parts of Southeast Asia

people watch a homemade rocket go way up in the sky for the festival

That's a homemade rocket all the way up there! No wonder this is also called the Rocket Festival. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images)

What’s the best way to ensure water for your rice crops? A rocket, of course!

Villages come together in the spring to create detailed homemade bamboo rockets to fly into the sky as a reminder for Phaya Thaen (say “pa-ya ten”), a god, to send down some rain! Villagers also compete for the best decorated and highest travelling rocket. Some of them are over nine metres long!

There’s also singing, dancing and, if you’re old enough, drinking Lao rice whisky, lao lao (say “laow” like “cow”) or lao khao (say “laow cow”).

What would you and your friends use to make your own homemade rocket?

Of course, these aren’t all the festivals across Asia! These are just five of hundreds of different ways to celebrate culture, spiritual practices and stories. Can you think of any other festivals and holidays?

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