By Kae Saeteurn
April 20, 2017

This past weekend was one of New Year celebrations for many countries and cultures that follow the Buddhist calendar, including those of Southeast Asia. In Seattle, you might hear it more commonly referred to as Khmer (Cambodian) New Year, Lao New Year, and Thai New Year.

From receiving blessings to hearing and saying “Sur sdei chhnam thmei” in Khmer, or “Sabaidee pee mai” in Lao (yep, both mean “Happy New Year”), this past weekend was a time to celebrate and catch up with family, friends, and community members. I did just that with a few of my friends…

“For blessings, I always like the white yarn bracelets we get from people because I feel like I get good luck from those who are blessing me. When the person ties the yarn on you, they’re blessing you with good karma and luck for the year. As you’re getting that done, other people are there to bless you too, and they do that by holding your elbow. It’s kind of like one big train of people blessing one another.” – A.P.

“I celebrate Khmer New Year by volunteering and performing for the annual UW Khmer Student Association New Year Show. Although my family personally does not celebrate, it’s still a very fun and welcoming experience for my Khmer friends. I enjoy watching us youth engage in Khmer culture by dancing, speaking, and organizing a large event for the community.” – F.A.

“Every year, I watch my mom get ready for Lao New Year. She dresses in a colorful Lao sinh and puts together piles of food to offer at temple. Lao New Year always involves a lot of food. From what she has told me, one way that Lao New Year brings the community together is by providing the opportunity to eat together while ringing in the New Year.” – A.V.

Indeed, this past weekend was a time for enjoying the company of fellow community members. If you missed out on any celebrations and events, or you’re looking to extend that New Year spirit, mark your calendars for the 2017 White Center Cambodian New Year Street Festival on Saturday, April 29. More details can be found here.