Thailand's Songkran Festival
Celebrated annually from April 13 to April 15, the Songkran Festival is considered to be Thailand's very own New Year's Day. This festive occasion keeps in line with the Buddhist/Hindu calendar and follows a three-day celebration evolving around cleansing and prayer. During this auspicious festival, Thais traditionally return home to reunite with this families, visit temples, and sprinkle water on the shoulders and hands of loved ones as an act of wishing good luck. Similar to how Chinese New Year is celebrated, food plays a major role in Songkran festivities. From offerings for monks to delicacies with lucky names, dishes including satay chicken and fresh fruits such as mangoes and papayas are popularly enjoyed throughout the Festival period:
A dish thoroughly enjoyed during Songkran festivities, Laab Gai, is essentially Thailand's version of a Western chicken salad. The word laab directly translates to "fortune" and gai, to "chicken"; therefore, this dish is thought to bring good fortune in the coming year. Often served with sticky rice, cucumbers, and green beans, this minced chicken salad is not only quick and easy to make, but also offers a wonderful variety of flavors and textures.
Similar to how Chinese celebrate the New Year by consuming dumplings to bode wealth, these pockets of heaven are also considered to be a lucky food in Thailand. Toong Tong, which literally translates to "money bags", are unsurprisingly enjoyed during Songkran festivities. Wonton wrappers are filled with a savory meat mixture and then gathered up at the corners to make a small bag. These pockets are then fried until golden brown and typically served with a sweet peanut dipping sauce. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, you will want to eat these year-round!
Known for their sweetness, mangoes, an already widely popular fruit in Thailand, are even more in demand during Songkran festivities as their rich color and flavor symbolize prosperity. With Thailand's warm temperatures, there's nothing better than a refreshing mango salad on a hot summer afternoon. Made with jalapeños, lime, and cilantro, this dish embodies the main elements of Thai food: sweet, sour, and spicy. Another favorite is mango with sticky rice, a dessert that can only be described as heavenly. Made with coconut-scented sticky rice topped with fresh ripe mangoes, this scrumptious dessert is the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth. What better way to bode success in the New Year than by starting and finishing your meal with a lucky dish!