Christmas in the Hills

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Merry Christmas from Northern Thailand! It’s been more than a week now since I arrived at the ECHO Asia Seedbank. I came by car, but a select few of my coworkers walked the hundred miles from Chiang Mai. That’s the gang, finally arriving.

Since getting here I’ve started work on some work-related projects, but this is the holidays, so the big theme has been celebrating Christmas, hill-tribe style. Most of the villages in this area are populated by ethnic minorities. So far I have come into contact with Karen, Palaung and Lahu people, and have had the opportunity to hear bits of their language both in conversation and in song. Many villages in these groups are Christian, so they have been celebrating Christmas.

DSC07299Above, a Lahu woman teaches my fellow farang (foreigners) how to shape pounded rice dough into patties.

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At a Palaung village the people gathered for a celebration sponsored by ECHO’s partner, UHDP. There were games, including the race on bamboo stilts pictured above. And in the evening, music and dancing:

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This is a particularly exciting year for the Palaung. This year the New Testament has been published in their language for the first time, decades after the people of this village accepted Christianity.

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UHDP had their own Christmas celebration as well, and the ECHO staff joined right in. That’s the Christmas tree and stage there, where many a musical performance occured, late into the night. And here are the ECHO interns, roasting some freshly-slaughtered meat on the grill:

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It’s been a wonderful time up here in the hills. In particular, seeing Christmas celebrated in multiple languages and cultures was an amazing privilege. I’m grateful to be here. I can tell already it will be a good six months.

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