Most Thais practice Buddhism, but Christmas is still a huge hit and holiday cheer is everywhere.

Swathed in flashy lights blinking “Merry Christ-mas,” a seven-story shopping mall’s facade also features large Santas bearing gifts. Inside, myriad shops and stalls are festooned with synthetic pine boughs and other Yuletide paraphernalia – often right next to the obligatory Buddha statuettes and animistic spirit shrines.

All around Bangkok, giant neon snowflakes, chubby snowmen, and full-size reindeer sleighs are everywhere. “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Jingle Bells” pipe nonstop from loudspeakers. Weeks before the holiday, a Christmasy atmosphere is in full swing in this predominantly Buddhist country.

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