What is Thailand’s Wai Kru Day? Celebrating as an English Teacher!

Just as we have Teacher Appreciation week in America, Thailand celebrates a similar occasion.

What is Wai Kru Day?

Wai Kru Day (Teachers’ Day) rolls around every June where ceremonies are held for students to honor their teachers. Before reading on, check out my previous post on the importance of a proper wai in Thailand. This gesture is the main component behind Wai Kru Day and how it’s celebrated.

Wai Greeting in Thailand (the type of wai correlates to social status and respect)
Kru teacher

Teachers are highly respected in Thailand. They’re seen as knowledgeable figures that play a significant role in shaping students throughout their school years. Wai Kru Day is dedicated to honoring just that.

Wai Kru Day Ceremony

At the beginning of the school day, students enter campus with flowers to offer during the Wai Kru Ceremony. Many also bring additional flowers and gifts to personally hand out to their teachers in the morning.

Later in the day, a schoolwide ceremony is held to pay respects to the administrative staff. Staff members sit on stage according to hierarchy, with the director (principal) seated in the middle. Two students (one boy and one girl) are chosen from each prathom (grade level) to present a floral arrangement. 

Each flower within the arrangement represents characteristics students strive to embody while learning. Here are the most common ones:

  • Ixora flowers: sharp mindedness and intelligence
  • Cynodon Dactylon (Bermuda grass): resilience, determination and perseverance
  • Popped rice: discipline
  • Eggplant flowers: respect and humility

Upon presenting, these students offer the highest wai – a complete bow to the ground with their palms pressed in a prayer position at the forehead. This type of wai is reserved for monks and the royal family, but is also used on Wai Kru Day to illustrate the utmost honor towards teachers. While floral arrangements are presented, the rest of the students rise to sing a Wai Kru Song with their hands forming a wai at their chest.

Since I taught in the English program, we had our own little Wai Kru Ceremony in addition to the schoolwide celebration. Teachers (myself included) sat at the front of the meeting room while students were arranged by prathom (grade level). They began with the singing of the Wai Kru Song and then row by row, were called up to pay respects to their teachers. The presenting students kneeled their way towards us (demonstrating respect towards teachers’ status over them), and offered their flowers while holding the highest wai.

The level of respect Thais have for teachers is admirable. Being held with such high regard is something we can all learn and apply to the way in which we view teachers in our home countries. Teachers are what enable each of us to pursue our passions and strive beyond our potential. Without their endless encouragement, support, and care, none of us would be where we are today.

Reflect on your journey – how have your teachers influenced the person you are today? And how can you embody and share this level of respect to your teachers?


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Additional Resources

Wai Kru Song

Students presenting flowers at a Wai Kru Ceremony

References

Weller, A. (2018, June 10). Wai Kru Day. Retrieved May 7, 2020, from http://www.addieweller.com/wai-kru-day

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