Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Global new year traditions

Hello Westside! The year is coming to a close, and 2018 is just around the corner. America has its usual traditions of course: popping champagne, counting down the seconds, and starting the new year with a kiss. What about the rest of the world though? Let’s take a look at New Year traditions around the world!!!

Image result for thai new year
(tigermauythai.com, photographer not listed)

New Years in Thailand is a splash-- literally!! Celebrated on the 13th of April, the Thai New Year, or Songkran, includes festivals of throwing water! The tradition of celebrating with water derives from respecting elders. Pouring water over the palms of elders is a way to show honor and courtesy. In modern times, Thais will toss containers of water, use water guns, and hoses to drench each other on the streets! You’ll be in the splash zone, if you come within April 13-15! Festivals, like the one shown above, are also a holiday tradition. Too bad this holiday isn’t after Holi; it could wash off the colored powders and paints!

Image result for nowruz
(worthypause.com, artist not listed)

The Persian New Year, more formally known as Nowruz (عيد نوروز), is celebrated on March 20, or March 21, varying on the year. Nowruz literally translates into “New day” in Farsi, and also marks the first day of spring. Nowruz is celebrated by the majority of Iranians, regardless of race or religion. It has possibly been around since the sixth century B.C. ! Persians have a Santa-like character named “Uncle Nowruz,” an older man with a white beard, and his clown-like sidekick, “Haji Piruz.” Uncle Nowruz brings presents to all the children, and Haju Piruz sings whimsical songs and plays his tambourine in the streets. There are also many other traditions associated with Nowruz!
  • Spring cleaning- which is often in preparation for Nowruz
  • A Haft Seen table, which contains the following seven items:
    • Sabzeh (wheat grass)
    • Samanu (sweet pudding)
    • Senjed (sweet dried lotus fruit)
    • Serkeh (vinegar)
    • Sir (garlic)
    • Sib (apples)
    • Sumac (crushed spice made from genus Rhus)

  There are several other optional items as well:
    • A mirror
    • A live goldfish in a bowl
    • Orange in a bowl of water
    • Decorated eggs
    • Coins
    • Books of traditional poetry
  • Jumping over a large bonfire (but many people use firecrackers due to the dangers of this ancient tradition)
  • Counting down to the New Year, similar to Americans.
  • A large family meal, consisting of foods such as Kuku Sabzi, Ghormeh Sabzi, and Zereshk Polo (a personal favorite of mine).

The holiday is celebrated by more than 300 million people annually!

Image result for Ethiopian New Year
(officeholidays.com, no photographer listed)

The Ethiopian New Year, better known as Enkutatash, is celebrated on Meskerem 1 (Ethiopian Calendar), which is September 11 on the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar is also seven to eight years behind the Gregorian calendar, and is in 2010 presently. “Enkutatash” literally translates to “gift of jewels.” The name derives from the bible story where the queen of Ethiopia meets King Solomon, and brings him a large quantity of wealth and precious stones. When she returned, her local rulers welcomed her with wealth of their own. Enkutatash marks the end of the rainy season, and with the new sunshine brings a tradition: one of which that many of us enjoy in the morning. Ethiopians will fancy a traditional coffee ceremony, where coffee is brewed, served, and sipped. A tradition for the children of Ethiopia is to sing “Abebayehugn,” a song that means “I have seen flowers.” They play the song with hand drums, while boys present their own painted pictures. The children participate in this with promise of praise or gifts from adults.

Image result for chinese new year
(timeout.com, photographer not listed)
The Chinese New Year is one of the most well known, and celebrated, holidays around the world. The Chinese New Year, a holiday on the lunisolar calendar, does not align with American calendars. The day varies from year to year because of this. The next one is February 16, 2018. Traditionally, Chinese New Year is meant to be spent with family. There is usually a big meal, called the “Tuánjù wǎncān” (团圆饭), or “Reunion Dinner,” and is considered the most important meal of the year. The holiday has an ancient legend, and it goes like this:
Long ago, a great monster named Nian (年)  lived in the depths of the sea. He had sharp fangs and horns, and every new year he would come and eat the villagers. The villagers would flee every year, and would return to a destroyed town. One year, as the villagers were planning to leave, a wise old man came into town. He did not evacuate like the others, but instead performed a series of rituals. He put up red paper on the doors, burned bamboo to make a loud crackling sound, lit candles, and wore red clothes. When the villagers returned, they found their village was safe! Now every year in China, villagers perform the ceremony to keep Nian at bay. Nian also translates to “year,” so to overcome Nian is to also overcome the past year, and move further.

Other traditions include:
  • No cleaning the house, or showering. This is so you don’t wash away the good fortune and wealth of the new year!
  • Finding your Chinese Zodiac!  Check out the link here -> https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/
  • The Spring Festival, where parades with paper dragons and fireworks are held.

Religious New Years:
These are holidays celebrated by different religions, and not necessarily by country!
  • Hindu - Celebrated by Hindus on the first day of the Hindu month Chaitra (March 28th)
  • Rosh Hashanah- Celebrated by Jews on September 21, the first day of the Jewish New Year.
  • Hijri- Celebrated by Muslims on September 22nd, the first day of the Islamic Lunar Calendar

And finally…

Image result for usa new years
Here in our home, the US of A, we have many New Year’s traditions as well! We always count down the seconds to the New Year, and we often begin the new year with one (or more) of the following:
  • Fireworks
  • A kiss
  • Loud noise
  • A toast
There are other American traditions including New Year’s Resolutions, a feast with the family, and raves/dance parties. While many cities hold New Year events, the most famous is the Times Square ball drop. Famous singers come to perform, fireworks are lit, and the streets are filled with tourists and locals alike. The event’s most famous time is the ball drop, where everyone counts to ten as the heavily lit ball makes its way down. As for the rest of our lovely American traditions, I’m sure you’ve experienced them yourself.


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