Thai hill tribe Catholics celebrate Christmas their way

The number of Christians in Thailand is tiny - around 0.1 percent of the total population. But Catholicism has flourished among tribal people in the country's remote northern hills and they treat Christmas with reverence and ceremony.
Thai hill tribe Catholics celebrate Christmas their way
Giulia Mazza
Thailand
December 22, 2011
In northern Thailand, in the mountains of Chiang Mai province, tribal people celebrate Christmas for a whole week. This is the amount of time it takes the PIME missionaries (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) who are present there - three in all - to reach all the Catholic villages of the area. "We come with a statue of the Infant Jesus, a large one, 30-40cm,"  says Fr Massimo Bolgan, in Thailand for 12 years, "and the entire village waits for us at the entrance to the village, wearing their traditional dress and with a sort of cradle hand made for the statuette. Then, in procession and singing traditional songs, we move together toward the church, where we celebrate mass. At the end of the function, we distribute gifts to children of the village prepared by us. Each package contains clothes that come from Italy, pens and candy. " There is a great turn out, because it represents an important moment for the whole village. After Mass, we all eat and celebrate together. "The sense of this - says the missionary - is that the entire village welcomes Jesus and takes him into the house of the Lord. Welcoming not only the statue but also the sacrament of the Eucharist. And finally they come to pay their last respects to the image of baby Jesus, which they embrace". Full Story: Christmas among Lahu and Akha tribals of Fang Source: AsiaNews.it
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