After a number of months of living here in Thailand, I have learned some unusual (to my western perspective) customs, which I will share with you in this blog post.
Did you know that it is bad luck to have your hair cut on a Wednesday in Thailand? That explains why barbershops and beauty salons are often closed here on Wednesdays: it is a bad luck day to have your hair cut.
Why? This custom is attributed to two different reasons: one is that this started many years ago when a previous king (the Thais love and revere their king) had his hair cut on a Wednesday, so the Thai people thought it would be bad luck (inappropriate?) to have their hair cut on a Wednesday.
Another reason given for not cutting one’s hair on a Wednesday is that Wednesday was named as the Day of the Farmer. And for farmers to have good luck and bountiful crops, they would never cut or prune their plants on a Wednesday. This extended to not even cutting their hair!
Colors for days of the week. All Thais learn at a young age that each day of the week has a different color to bring good luck. On Sundays, people feel wearing red brings good luck; Mondays – yellow; Tuesdays – pink, on Wednesdays it is green; Thursdays – orange; Fridays – blue; Saturdays – purple.
Thais are surprised to learn that foreigners do not follow this system of colors to bring good luck. When you are on the subway in Bangkok and you notice a plethora of pink shirts/blouses, you will know it is a Tuesday! Beware, as there are bad luck colors for each day of the week too!
Did you see a snake cross your path on the highway? If so, that means you will be coming into some money! That is the belief in Thailand, and it only works if you are in a car or on a motor scooter and see that snake crossing the road in front of you. I guess if you are on foot and the snake is a dangerous one, the adage about good luck quickly goes out the window!
Do not point with your toes or feet! This is a big one and my Thai partner has had to correct me more than once. The foot is considered the dirtiest part of the body (and the head is the cleanest and most spiritual), so it is very rude to use your foot to point at something or even to touch something with your foot. When you kneel in front of a monk, you make sure your toes are pointed away from the monk. Also, you should never touch the top of someone’s head here in Thailand, as the top of the head is considered sacred and holy, as it is closest to God.
How to eat Thai style. The Thais are very polite, and the gentility extends to table manners as well. One should never clank or make noise with the silverware as you eat. The Thai custom is to hold a large spoon in the right hand (reverse this if you are left handed) and a fork in your left hand. You use the fork to push the food onto the spoon, and then it is down the hatch with the food on your spoon. The monk below demonstrates the proper technique.
These are just a few of the customs I have learned here in Thailand. Yes, there are more and probably many of which I am still unaware. I will keep bumping along here, doing my best to learn and not commit faux pas. But the Thais know that we “farangs” (the Thai word for “foreigner”) are different and do not understand their ways. They smile and are very forgiving, wonderful people with big hearts and warm smiles.
Are there customs/superstitions in the US that you think Thai people would find strange? Please let us know in the Leave a Reply box below. And please share this blog post if you enjoyed it.