Thailand Post is issuing its annual Symbol of Love stamp today — February 7, 2018 — at post offices throughout the Kingdom. The single 5-baht stamp has been given the issue number 1143 and is released just in time for Valentine’s Day (วันวาเลนไทน์ — Wan Wal-en-thyn), which is a very big event here in Thailand. Most Thais refer to it as Wan Rak (วันรัก) which means “day of love”.
While giving boxes of chocolate is not very popular (it melts easily in the heat — February tends to be one of the hottest months in Thailand) and I have never seen a candy heart here, flowers seem to be even more popular of a gift than in the United States. Even though the price does increase a bit this time of year, the cost of bouquets and individual long-stemmed flowers is still dirt-cheap compared to most Western countries.
In the early morning hours the day before Valentine’s Day, thousands of street stalls suddenly appear EVERYWHERE and start selling anything that is red or pink or both: stuffed bears, plush hearts, and tons of flowers. In the schools, the students (and it doesn’t matter whether you’re in kindergarten or a high school senior) will walk around plastering all manner of heart stickers on each other’s shirts. By the end of the day, everybody is covered head to toe in pink and red stickers (including some of the teachers!). One finds hearts that have fallen off of shirts affixed to sidewalks for weeks afterwards.
Yes, Valentine’s Day in Thailand is mostly about who gets the most gifts and flowers to show off (and the girls love walking around carrying bears and huge bouquets all day long).
While many will go out to eat dinner, it is rare to see Thai people holding hands in public other than the younger generation (no doubt, influenced by us Western visitors who aren’t so chaste). For those who stay at home, there are special Valentine’s Day television programs shown all day long on almost every channel. Mostly, these are cheesy game shows and comedies.
For philatelists (some in Thailand actually have girlfriends and wives!), a number of the Bangkok area post offices have special Valentine’s Day cancellations available. These are in addition to the regular first day of issue postmarks (again, most branches in Bangkok will offer special pictorial cancellations today). I often wish that Phuket would do something similar (at least the Philatelic Museum counter) and have occasionally thought about moving to the capital simply in order to obtain postmark-filled covers on release dates. But then I think of the traffic congestion and pollution and come to my senses.
The postmarks, press release and first day cover pictured above came courtesy of Thailand Post’s collector-oriented Facebook page (called “Stamp In Love”). The following images were shared this afternoon on the Thai Stamp Museum Facebook page:
I hope all of you enjoy Wan Rak with your significant other. If you want to be a little adventurous, why not give these Thai love phrases a try?