Do you know what the names of 7 days of the week in Thai mean?

If you remember what kind of calendar we used before the present Thai solar calendar, you will know that we used lunar calendar. In order to tell the date at that time, we just followed the moon whether it was waxing, ขึ้น /kêun/ or waning, แรม /raem/. For example: แรม ๑๕ ค่ำ เดือน ๘ /raem 15 kâm deuan 8/ means ‘waning of the 15th Night of the 8th Lunar Month’.  In case some or you might not know ค่ำ /kâm/ means night or nighttime.

However, we received the idea about 7 days of the week and the colors of each day from Hindus.

วันอาทิตย์ /wan-aa-tíd/, Sunday, is the first day of the week. It came from Sanskrit word ‘อาทตย’ means the sun. Red is the color of Sunday because Lord Surya, the Hindu god of the Sun, has red skin.

วันจันทร์ /wan-jan/, Monday, is the second of the week. Sanskrit word ‘จนทร’ referred to the moon. Lord Chandra, Moon God, has yellow skin, thus yellow is the color of Monday.

วันอังคาร /wan-ang-kaan/, Tuesday, the third day of the week. Although the Sanskrit root of ‘องคาร’ meant an ember or a charcoal, Lord Mangala, aka Lohit (meaning red), rules the day. His is the god of war and red is his color. Nevertheless, the color of the day in Thailand is pink. This day is also represented as The Mars.

วันพุธ /wan-púd/, Wednesday, a Sanskrit word, indicates connoisseur, pundit, expert. Can you guess which planet is พุธ /púd/? Right, it is Mercury. Wednesday is dedicated to Lord Vithal, an incarnation of Krishna and leaf green color represents the day.

วันพฤหัสบดี /wan-pá-réu-hàd-sà-bor-dee/, Thursday, the fifth day of the week. Its root ‘วฤหสปติ’ means god who is the teacher of all angels and therefore Thursday is assigned to Vishnu and Brihaspati, the Guru of Devas. The word also refers to the fifth giant planet from the sun. Yes, I mean Jupiter. Reddish yellow is the color of Thursday in Thailand.

วันศุกร์ /wan-sùg/, Friday, or ‘ศุกร’ in Sanskrit denotes merit or bright. Friday is devoted to Mother Goddess ‘Shakti’ and Shukra or Venus. In Thai, we call Venus ‘ศุกร์’ /sùg/ as well.

วันเสาร์ /wan-sao/, Saturday, ‘เสาร’ doesn’t only represent heaven in Sanskrit but also indicates Saturn when we talk about planet. In Hinduism, Saturday is reverent to Lord Shani. Owning to his black skin, black is the color of the day in Hindu belief. However, in Thailand, it is dark purple not black.

Thais do know not only when their birthday is but also which day is their birthday. And you? Do you know which day is yours?

Do you know why we call money เงิน /ngern/ or ตังค์ /dtaang/ and what ‘baht’ came from?

Do you know why we call money เงิน /ngern/ or ตังค์ /dtaang/ and what ‘baht’ came from?

If you think that it’s a coincidence, you are wrong. When we track back to the history of Thai coinage, the first Thai money was ‘เงินพดด้วง’ /ngern-pód-duâng/ aka “Bullet Money”. It goes back to the 13th centuries when The Sukhothai Kingdom was founded. Can you guess what kind of metal it produced? Yes, you are right. The bullet money made of silver.

เงินพดด้วงเงินพดด้วง /ngern-pód-duâng/ was called “Bullet Money” because of its round-shaped which made it look similar to a bullet with marks to show the origin. It was in circulation for 600 years until the Rattanakosin Kingdom.

Thai baht originated from a traditional unit of mass, like the pound. Its currency value was originally equivalent to silver of corresponding weight (15.2 grams). Nowadays we usually use a kilogram but บาท or baht is still the unit of mass when buying or selling gold and silver.

The monetary and financial system had been developed significantly in the reign of King Rama V. The first paper money, called หมาย /măay/, was issued due to an insufficiency of เงินพดด้วง /ngern-pód-duâng/. The banknote was also assigned to combat the counterfeit unsuccessfully because it was not popular at that time.

In 1897 the production of พดด้วง /pód-duâng/ was discontinued after King Rama IV had got a small man-powered coin production machine from Queen Victoria. The flat coins started to be produced and used alongside พดด้วง /pód-duâng/. HRH Prince Jayanta Mongkol devised the decimal system for the new coins. 100 satang is equal to 1 baht.

Although we might hardly buy anything with satang coins presently, people still refer to money by using the word ‘สตางค์’ /sà-dtaang/. When they speak faster in a hurry, they will cut the first syllable and shorten the length of the second syllable. It becomes ตังค์ /dtang/ finally.

Do you know why Thai names of the months are so loooong?

Do you know why Thai names of the months are so loooong?

As we know, Thailand has used a lunar calendar before the present solar calender. At that time, all months were called simply by ordinal numbers. The first month is เดือนอ้าย /deuan-âay/, the second month is เดือนยี่ /deuan-yêe/, the third month is เดือนสาม /deuan-săam/, the forth month is เดือนสี่ /deuan-sèe/ respectively until เดือนสิบสอง /deuan-sìb-sŏrng/ In case you wonder, อ้าย /âay/ and ยี่ /yêe/ can also refer to one and two in order.

Although Thai lunar calendar has 12 months in total, it is not compatible with the months in the Gregorian calendar. Each lunation is approximately 29½ days; therefore, the months alternate between 29 and 30 days. It means that a lunar year has only 354 days approximately. That’s why we can’t say that เดือนอ้าย /deuan-âay/ is January.

The lunar calendar was replaced with the current system in 1888. Therefore, new months were created for the solar calendar.

HRH Prince Devavongse Varopakarn, Siamese prince and diplomat during the reigns of Rama V and Rama VI, was interested in astronomy and astrology like his father, King Mongkut (Rama IV). He created the new names for the months in the solar calendar by following the zodiac.

The twelve astrological signs:

Aries เมษ /mêd/ + อายน  /aa-yon/ เมษายน

/me-săa-yon/

Taurus พฤษภ /préu-sòb/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ พฤษภาคม

/préu-sà-paa-kom/

Gemini มิถุน /mí-tŭn/ + อายน /aa-yon/ มิถุนายน

/mí-tù-naa-yon/

Cancer กรกฎ /gà-ra-gòd/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ กรกฎาคม

/gà-ra-gà-daa-kom/

Leo สิงห /sǐng-hà/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ สิงหาคม

/sǐng-hăa-kom/

Virgo กันย /gan/ + อายน /aa-yon/ กันยายน

/gan-yaa-yon/

Libra ตุล /dtun/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ ตุลาคม

/dtù-laa-kom/

Scorpio พิจิก /pí-jìg/

พฤศจิก /préu-sà- jìg/

+ อายน /aa-yon/ พฤศจิกายน

/préu-sà- jì-gaa-yon/

Sagittarius ธนู /ta-noo/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ ธันวาคม

/tan-waa-kom/

Capricorn มกร /má-gà-rá/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ มกราคม

/má-gà-raa-kom/

Aquarius กุมภ์ /gum/ + อาพนธ

/aa-pa-na-ta/

กุมภาพันธ์

/gum-paa-pan/

Pisces มีน /meen/ + อาคม /aa-kom/ มีนาคม

/mee-naa-kom/

Remarks: อายน /aa-yon/, อาคม /aa-kom/ and อาพนธ /aa-pa-na-ta/ mean ‘arrival of’. The Prince used 3 different suffixes to differentiate the number of days in each month: 30, 31, and 28 or 29 respectively.

Oh! I almost forget to mention that they are not Thai but Sanskrit compound words. That’s why they are elegant, meaningful and too hard to remember. LOL Luckily, you can also say เดือน /deuan/ + number, such as เดือนห้า /deaun-hâa/ to talk about May. We do understand what you mean even if it is not common practice here.

All in all, the names of each month mean ‘an arrival of each zodiac sign‘. Interesting?

Zodiac_CC.svg

Do you know when Thailand moved its new year to the 1st of January?

Do you know when Thailand moved its new year to the 1st of January?

Thais had used a lunar calendar since 1249 (1792 BE) in the Sukhothai Kingdom. We counted the first day of the first waning moon (during November to January) as New Year’s day.

At that time, people followed the Shalivahana era or the Saka era: มหาศักราช, in order to calculate a year. Shalivahana was a legendary emperor of ancient India, ruling from Pratishathana or Paithan, presently Maharashtra.

Later Thais accepted the Hindu belief of Brahmins. The 1st of the fifth waxing moon became the New Year which was originally consistent with Songkran for Thais (following the lunar calender). That’s why we called Songkran as the Thai New Year.

After 1569 (2112 BE) during Ayutthaya Kingdom’s reign, Chulasakarat: จุลศักราช was used officially in Thailand until 1888 (2431 BE); however, the first year of Chulasakarat started in 638 (1181 BE). It is a lunisolar calendar derived from the Burmese calendar.

King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) adopted the Thai solar calendar as the Siamese version of the Gregorian calendar in 1888 as the legal calendar replacing the Thai lunar calendar.

He also decreed a change in vulgar reckoning to the Rattanakosin Era or Rattanakosin Sok: รัตนโกสินทร์ศก. Its first year began on 6th April 1782 when King Buddhayotfa (Rama I), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, laid the foundation of Bangkok as a capital.

Before, New Year coincided with the date calculated for Songkran, when the Sun transits the constellation of Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac. King Chulalongkorn decreed the first of April to be the New Year’s Day in the year following the adoption of the solar calendar.

After using Rattanakosin Sok for 24 years, Buddhist Era (abbreviation BE), พุทธศักราช was decreed officially in 1913 (2456 BE). What’s more, on 6 September 1940, Prime Minister Plaek Pibulsongkram announced the 1st of January 1941 (2484 BE) to be the official New Year from then on.

Nowadays, the Common Era New Year’s Day (1 January) and Songkran (13 – 15 April), the Thai traditional New Year, are important public holidays in Thailand.

For Thais, we will say สวัสดีปีใหม่ /sà-wàd-dee bpee mài/ to each other on New Year’s Day. I wish you a prosperous and healthy year!

สวัสดีปีใหม่ค่ะ

sà-wàd-dee bpee mài kà