Foreigners in Thailand, otherwise known as ‘farangs’ are startled and confused by what appears to be a sea of yellow on Mondays. On the SkyTrain, on the streets and in businesses yellow is the color everywhere you look. What does it mean?
The color most people associate with royalty is purple, but that is a western perception of color. In Asia, yellow is the color most commonly associated with royalty.
If you were to ask a Thai person they will point out that each day of the week is represented by a color and may appear somewhat surprised that you don’t know this.
The days of the week in Thai are named after ‘god’ planets and each are associated with a specific color. Thais believe wearing the color of the day brings good luck. Yellow in Buddhist tradition represents Monday. Monday happens to be the day of the week King Bhumibol was born. The Thais revere their King in a way that is sometimes difficult for foreigners to understand. At the movies the theatre will show a video about the King and everyone must stand while the video and music play to honor the King. One foreigner was even sentenced to ten years jail time for defacing the King’s image by spray painting a poster of him. Therefore, to commemorate the King’s 60 years on the throne (he is currently the longest ruling monarch on the throne) ,and to show their respect and love for the King, in 2006 Thai people started to wear yellow shirts every Monday.
The previous fall the King was hospitalized for more than three weeks. When he left the hospital on November 7th he wore a pink shirt and pink blazer. The new color trend was captured by the media and noted by the faithful followers who had camped out for weeks in the hospital courtyard to pray and hope for a glimpse of the King. Shrewd merchants around Bangkok spotted the new trend and quickly stocked up on pink shirts. The merchants sold out of their stock of pink shirts immediately A shop owned by Crown Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn sold 40,000 pink shirts in November alone. As they say in fashion, pink is the new yellow.
If you want to fit in when traveling to Thailand, follow this color chart:
Sunday = Red, Monday = Yellow, Tuesday = Pink, Wednesday = Green, Thursday = Orange, Friday = Blue, Saturday = Purple
Thai Superstitions About Color
Thais are a very superstitious people and there are many superstitious beliefs and customs that have long been observed in Thailand. Some superstitions are about good luckand some are about bad luck. For example, there are superstitions about the meaning of colors and some take it very seriously.
Black, which is a mourning color, is worn at funerals and is a color associated with death and grieving. Therefore, it is forbidden to wear black at auspicious ceremonies like weddings. Traditionally, it is taboo to wear black except during the funeral rites and periods of mourning for the family. Nowadays black has become a very fashionable color to wear among younger Thais and the taboo is no longer adhered to in most cases.
There is also a color assigned to each day of the week: yellow for Monday, pink for Tuesday, green for Wednesday, orange for Thursday, blue for Friday, purple for Saturday and red for Sunday. Those living in Thailand may be familiar with the practice of wearing yellow on Monday to celebrate the King’s birthday and blue on Friday to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. These colors were chosen to according to the day on which the respective monarch was born and is used to symbolize them.
Thais believe that wearing the right color on the right day would bring luck. Most people don’t really seem to follow this practice anymore, but some may have a small piece of clothing, like a tie or handkerchief, which is the correct color. It is more common that people consider the color of the day of their birth. Many times people consider this color to be their lucky color. Thais seem to know which day of the week they were born on although this is not something I ever learned and will have to ask my parents about.