During a 15-year tradition in Thailand, Elephant Santa passed out hand gel, face masks and balloons as part of a school’s annual Christmas party.
Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, celebrates Christmas every year with Elephant Santas at the Jirasartwitthaya School. The last two years have been particularly noteworthy due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.
Reangrhongbaht Meepan from the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace hoped the event would make the students happier. He also hoped it would encourage them to continue to attend school.
In Ayuthaya as well as throughout Thailand, schools closed and students received vaccinations in October. Following vaccinations, school openings were staggered to alternate days of attendance throughout the semester.
Ayuthaya’s Jirasartwitthaya school had less than 30% of its classrooms filled on Friday.
Biuon Greham, a student who received a balloon said, “I am so happy to have received a balloon from the elephant today. My heart is pounding extremely fast.” Other children also took photos and selfies with the Elephant Santa’s. Elephants are highly regarded in Thailand and are the national animal.
The majority of Thais are Buddhist, but Christmas is celebrated as part of the year-end holiday season. Thailand does not observe Christmas as a public holiday because above all most Thais are Buddhists.
Holiday celebrations are mostly confined to western travellers and Christian families. This however doesn’t mean Thais don’t enjoy the Christmas season.