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The Songkran Festival is a traditional Thai New Year's celebration that takes place annually from April 13th to 15th. It is known for its water-throwing festivities, where people pour water on each other as a symbol of purification and the washing away of sins and bad luck.

The name Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, which means "astrological passage," and marks the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season in Thailand.

During the festival, people also visit temples, offer food to Buddhist monks, and participate in cultural activities such as parades and traditional dances. The holiday is an important time for families to come together and pay respect to their elders, as well as for friends to reunite and celebrate the start of a new year.

In recent years, the water-throwing aspect of Songkran has become more of a party atmosphere, with many young people taking to the streets to splash water on each other and engage in friendly water fights. Despite this shift in tone, the festival remains an important cultural tradition in Thailand, and is recognized as a public holiday across the country.

In addition to the water-throwing festivities, Songkran also involves other traditional customs and practices. One of the most important is the pouring of scented water on Buddha images, which symbolizes the washing away of bad luck and the accumulation of merit. This practice is known as "Rod Nam Dum Hua" and is considered a way to pay respect to one's ancestors and elders.

Another important aspect of Songkran is the creation of sand pagodas. Thai people often visit the beach during the holiday to build intricate sand structures that are believed to bring good luck and blessings. These pagodas are adorned with flowers, incense, and candles, and are seen as a way to honor Buddha and the teachings of Buddhism.

Songkran is also a time for delicious food and traditional sweets, such as "kanom tom," a sweet dessert made of sticky rice and coconut milk, and "khanom krok," a small cake made from rice flour and coconut milk. Additionally, many Thai people wear traditional clothing during the festival, such as "chut thai," which consists of a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and a wrap-around skirt for women.

Overall, the Songkran Festival is a time for joy, happiness, and togetherness. It is an opportunity for Thai people to reconnect with their cultural roots, pay respect to their elders, and celebrate the start of a new year with family and friends.

“Healthy” Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Published on 04/25/2021
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Almost every week there is a new superfood or ingredient that should help you shed extra pounds, boost your energy and strengthen your immune system. For decades, food companies have been trying to convince their customers to buy products that are full of additives, chemicals, and other questionable items. And while many of them are marketed as particularly healthy, these products can have negative effects on your health. Here are some supposedly “healthy” foods and their better alternatives.

“Healthy” Foods That Are Actually Unhealthy

Granola

Granola is the healthy breakfast alternative to sweet donuts or pancakes with syrup? Unfortunately not – granola is full of sugar (8 to 12 g per serving) and empty calories and should therefore be considered a dessert. Ingesting a large amount of sugar in the morning can be detrimental to your health. Studies show that increased sugar intake is linked to a higher risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. You can avoid this by simply making your own granola (or granola / granola bars) at home with nutrient-rich ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for natural sweetness. If you want to leave out granola entirely, just use chia seeds or hemp seeds as a crispy alternative to your yogurt or bowl of oatmeal!

Processed Fruit Juices

Even if you used to think that fruit juice was healthy – now you should definitely cross it off your shopping list. It contains a high and concentrated dose of fructose, but without the beneficial fiber that you get from whole foods. The same fiber has numerous benefits and helps you slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, avoiding sudden sugar shocks or hypoglycaemia. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Diet Snacks

Snacks such as vegetable chips are considered a healthy snack between meals and an alternative to high-fat products such as potato chips. However, many of the store-bought brands are deep-fried and are usually high in sodium, fat, and other artificial additives that you should absolutely avoid.
So how about homemade vegetable chips made from carrots, courgettes, radishes or cabbage? Fat-free popcorn, roasted chickpeas, or roasted pumpkin seeds are also healthy alternatives.

Artificial Sweetener

Artificial sweeteners are mostly hidden in “healthy” foods, but they are actually harmful to your health. Studies show that sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and saccharin can even stimulate your appetite and lead to food cravings. This subsequently leads to weight gain (possibly even obesity) and a deterioration in your intestinal health. You should definitely avoid diet foods with artificial sweeteners. Sweeten your food yourself. With fresh fruit, stevia, raw honey or maple syrup you can season your meals naturally and so satisfy your cravings for sweets – without any additional chemicals or other no-gos.

Weight Loss Goals For The New Year: How To Make Sure They’re Realistic

Weight loss goals are never easy to stick to in the new year: we all know how many people give up even before the end of January! But if you set your goals the right way, making sure they’re realistic, then you really can use the new year as a way of achieving the fitness levels you’ve always wanted.

Understanding Why People Fail

The main reason why people fail to meet their weight loss goals is because they aren’t motivated enough. When you aren’t motivated it’s easy to find other things to do instead of exercising, and it’s easy to start seeing exercise as a bore or a burden. This is why it’s important to set a resolution that really matters to you, instead of choosing an arbitrary goal.

How To Set Achievable Goals

The key is to make sure that the weight loss goals you set are achievable – both physically and mentally. First, you’ll need to start with motivation. Simply sitting down and thinking about all of the reasons why you want to lose weight or start exercising can get you excited about the prospect. Maybe you want to gain confidence, maybe you want to feel more energized again. Whatever it is, know what you are working for!

Next, you’re going to have to be honest with yourself and recognize your weaknesses. You’ve let things go for a reason – maybe you have a really sweet tooth, or maybe you got so busy or tired in your day to day life that exercise became less of a priority. By being really honest about what has stopped you in the past you can make sure you don’t repeat your mistakes.

Putting Together A Realistic Plan

Now that you’ve recognized your motivations and weaknesses, it’s time to put together a realistic plan. The more specific you are, the better – it’ll help keep you on track even through the tough days. This means setting a plan on how often you’ll exercise, where you’ll do it, and how long for. You’ll soon realize that it isn’t too difficult to fit 30 minutes of exercise into your day to day life!

Don’t forget that you’ll also need to combine dietary changes with your exercise. But don’t take on too much at once! Many people choose to go on crash diets in the new year only to give up within a few weeks. Start with something small, such as reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee. When you’re used to it, make another small change to your diet. The key is to make sure you’re not left craving all the foods you used to love – remember, the goal is to be realistic.