My gift for my Thai girlfriend...
I’m not expecting my girl will get much from her family for
her 24th birthday. A cake seems to be expected. She is having a low key
gathering with friends, but as we are not planning to go out, I doubt
anyone will be buying her anything at all, not even the customary drink I
would expect from my friends back home. Perhaps someone might bring
some food or drink for the party that they are prepared to share.
looks like I will probably be giving her the biggest and most important
gift, by default, which is a pair of rollerblades, as that’s an
activity she has expressed a desire to do a few times recently, but not
something she will likely be expecting.
The cost was doubled as I had to
get a pair for myself to go with her, but I think this will still be
the best gift she gets, unless she has a really nasty fall or something
as soon as she tries them on of course – quite likely as we are having a
gathering that involves alcohol.
Thai girls also have little concern for Christmas. Christmas is a Christian holiday, so in a primarily Buddhist country there is no huge hype around it. Obviously the foreign influx has meant that there are plenty of Christmas activities and Westerners celebrating, but it’s nothing like the scale of the obsession around the event in the West.
Don’t expect your Thai girlfriend to even have the day off. Fortunately mine works for Westerners so is therefore given a couple of weeks off while the rest of the company jet off back to the UK to spend time with family.
We do exchange gifts on Christmas as well of course. I’ve spent my Christmases during our relationship at home however, so I’ve yet to witness a Christmas in Thailand. She says that they do sometimes exchange gifts for Christmas, but it’s not really a big deal or tradition.
Even her spoiled nephew only really celebrates Christmas at his international school. Santa only brings a sack full of presents to western children however; his Christmas haul is piddling in comparison to what he could have expected had he been brought up in an equivalent middle class British or American family.
Thai holidays such as the Thai New Year Songkran festival that involves a
nationwide water fight haven’t gone the way of Western holidays have
with rampant commercialism. Sure, everyone is selling water guns,
replacement flip flops for when you lose yours in the mele, water, beer
etc, but you just pick them up on the day; there aren’t three months of
adverts for water guns to endure.
There is a tradition of gift giving on
New Year, but that is more family to family than person to person.
Thais sometimes seem to fail to have grasped concepts of
commercialisation we have in the West. For instance one of the cheapest
beers I’ve had in Thailand was at an Army United football match. It
appears that they haven’t grasped that as it’s half-time in the match
and I only have 15 minutes to purchase goods, I can be fleeced for
plenty more due to the lack of alternatives.
That perhaps explains why the traditions of gift giving on New Year and
celebrations on Songkran haven’t gone the way of Christmas in the West
as corporations seek to extract maximum profit from the events. Before
you say Christmas lends itself to commercialisation more than the
equivalent Thai festival, what about Easter, Halloween, Valentines Day
and Mothers Day? The former two being jumped on to extract as much as
possible, while the latter two have simply been created in parts of the
year where businesses suffered due to the lack of incentive to buy.
actually quite like buying presents for people, so I’m not looking to
avoid the responsibility of buying gifts for my Thai girlfriend. It’s actually me who pushes the gift giving celebrations on my
Thai girlfriend, but there’s none of the pressure that there is back
home. My gifts have ranged from $10 value to $150 value. If it’s late
it’s fine, if it’s not particularly thoughtful, or a blatantly selfish
gift, there isn’t going to be a problem.
Don’t expect to save money by dating a Thai girl, but there is a compelling argument to date a girl here if you want to escape the overly consumerist culture of the West.
Key Learning Points:
- Thais very often spoil young children rotten; they’ll constantly be buying them gifts and pampering them in ways far beyond what you will see in the West. It all stops after a certain age when the Ga-tan-yoo concept starts to be instilled into them. This does not mean that you do not need to buy your Thai girlfriend any gifts on her birthday! Actually, she will appreciate regular gifts whether it’s her birthday or not. The gifts needn’t be anything expensive, the are just a way of letting her know that you have been thinking of her… this is very common in Thailand and you should expect to receive regular gifts too if you have found a good natured girl.
- The buying of gifts during national holidays is nothing like it is in the West where considerable expense is laid out. The flip side is that you need to be constantly looking for little gifts in order to make you girl feel loved. Gifts are usually a good idea when visiting Thai family members too – it relates to the Nam Jai concept that I’ve already explained above.