Red, white and blue – more than a flag
Just like Thailand has changed its names several times throughout history, their flag too has changed. Its current variation – a three-coloured, five-striped flag known as Thong Trairong – is said to represent their nation, their religion and their king, which is an unofficial motto that many Thai live by. The red colour symobolises the blood spilled by Thais to maintain their nation’s independence, the white colour represents purity and Buddhism, and the blue stands primarily for the country’s monarchy, but also shows solidarity with Thailand’s First World War allies, many of which had a red, white and blue flag.
Political statements and royal representation
Colours in Thailand are also used by political activists to make statements. Anti-former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and pro-monarchy supporters are frequently referred to as the yellow shirts, whilst those who are pro-democracy, pro-Shinawatra and relatively anti-monarchist are seen protesting in red shirts.
However, that doesn’t mean these colours are off-limits or always associated with such beliefs. Many Thais wear yellow on Father’s Day, as it’s the colour of the King, and similarly they’ll wear light blue on Mother’s Day, as that’s the Queen’s colour. These aren’t the only colours that lovers of the monarchy have worn for their royal family. During former King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s struggles with illness, he was seen leaving hospital in a pink suit. After explaining that his personal astrologer informed him that pink was his lucky colour and that he was wearing it as much as possible, many of his supporters took to wearing the colour, too. Whilst this is different to Western traditions, some things are similar. Following King Bhumibol’s death in October 2016, many Thais around the world wore black for a number of days as a mark of respect and mourning towards their beloved King.
Daily doses of colour
If you’re travelling to Thailand soon, you may want to remember this handy chart, as different colours are considered auspicious and unlucky depending on the day. The lucky colours of the day are:
Sunday – red
Monday – yellow/cream
Tuesday – pink
Wednesday – green at daytime, grey at night
Thursday – orange/brown
Friday – light blue
Saturday – purple/black
These colours aren’t picked at random, but are taken from Hindu mythology; for example, Sunday is red because the god of Sunday is Surya, who has the colour red. These colours also explain why Thais wear yellow and light blue on Father’s and Mother’s Day, as the King and Queen were born on Monday and Friday respectively, and so their colours are worn as a mark of respect and love.