It is time to travel to the land of some of the best coffee we have ever tasted and home to some of Southeast Asia’s most amazing waterfalls, Laos!
The only landlocked Asian country of Laos is different from any of the other countries we receive our coffee beans from, as they celebrate the very important Bodhi Day!
Lights on the Fig Tree
December 8th is an incredibly important holiday in Laos and other Buddhist countries as it is Bodhi Day, also known as Enlightenment Day!
Bodhi Day is a celebration to commemorate and honour the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bodhi Fig Tree in 596 BCE.
While the day is commemorated in celebration of the Buddha, it is seen as a quiet day to reflect upon the ways one can achieve enlightenment. There are no parades throughout city streets as this is widely seen as a day of meditation, reflection, prayer and teachings.
Some Laotians will mark the holiday by decorating fig trees with bright, multi-coloured lights. The various colours in the lights represent the many different paths to achieving similar enlightenment as the teachings of the Buddha!
Other citizens will continue to observe the significance of this day by giving small gifts to loved ones over the course of the next 30 days. An important note about these gifts is that they are NEVER gifts related to or depicting violence.
The month of December itself is widely seen as a time to rest and celebrate after a long, rainy farming season that ends with various harvest celebrations!
While the true Lao New Year occurs on April 13th or 14th to coincide with the traditional solar new year when the sun enters the sign of Aries the Ram, the first sign in the zodiac, some citizens will celebrate a traditional New Year in December as well.
Cookies and Milk All Day? Yes Please!
While Laotian children celebrating Christmas enjoy a simple meal on their Christmas Day, children celebrating Bodhi enjoy what we all wished for as children:
Cookies and Milk!
Bodhi Day cookies are traditionally heart-shaped to symbolize and match the leaves of the Fig Tree under which the Buddha achieved his enlightenment.
These delicious cookies are served with milk and rice throughout the day!
Preferences towards the consumption of meat and meat dishes depend on the branch of Buddhism and the means by which the animal was killed. Generally, if an animal was killed for non-selfish reasons or is received as a gift, the consumption is acceptable within the branches that consume animal meat.
Using Religious Differences to Build Community!
As a primarily Buddhist and socialist country, there is not a long holiday season in Laos to celebrate the rituals of Christmas like what we are familiar with.
Of the 7 million people within the country, approximately 1.5% of the population practices in the Christianity religion and celebrates Christmas. These celebrations are typically a one- or two-day event and are simple and preserved in comparison to the holiday season that we know in North America.
The Christian-minority uses their celebrations as an attempt to strengthen relationships with government officials to show that they are their friends and partners in ministering religion to the Lao people.
The actual day of the Christmas celebration varies every year but always falls within the first week of December to the first week of January. The date depends on church situations and member availabilities, as well as taking into consideration the government calendar, work, school and farming schedules.
Celebrations often include presentations of stories, songs, dance, games and gift-giving! Bigger cities such as Vientiane, the capital of Laos, has Christmas decoration in pubs, Christmas movie marathons, Christmas trees and occasional visits from the big guy in a red suit!
Acknowledgement and Acceptance
Christian Laotians are very focused and centred on celebrating the traditional gift of Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ!
This moment is used to not only celebrate but to also share God’s love and foster a better relationship among non-Christians in a country where many Christian churches are not recognized.
While it is not their religion nor celebration, many Buddhists believe that Jesus was a High Bodhisattva and was a manifestation of the Enlightened mind, this generally accepting and acknowledging the observance of Christmas.
Laos and Road Coffee
We were one of the first roasters to source directly from this beautiful country and we simply cannot get enough of their delicious coffee!
Our Laos Roast is a smooth, creamy coffee finished with a roasted almond nuttiness that has converted more people into coffee lovers than we can count with its devastatingly delicious taste.
If you love great coffee (which we’re sure you do), the caramel, honey and roasted almond flavours will have you brewing another cup before you finish your first!