New Year's around the world
December 18, 2021
Most Americans love to ring in each new year by counting down at midnight on Dec. 31 and watching fireworks either in person or on television. Lots of us love to watch the ball drop in Times Square in New York City on New Year's Eve and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on New Year's Day. We hug and kiss and dance. We make (often futile) resolutions. And although lots of countries and cultures celebrate when we do, there are many who don't.
Perhaps the most familiar is Chinese New Year, which will take place on Feb. 1 next year. Chinese New Year is typically celebrated for sixteen days and is meant to herald the spring planting season. Decorations are traditionally red and gold. Chinese New Year is a time for family, renewal, sharing the wealth and starting over. As such, families often travel to reunite and spend time together. They like to don new clothes for the occasion in token of a new start. In the spirit of sharing the wealth, they like to give money in red envelopes. Since the Chinese consider red to be a lucky color, these gifts are referred to as "lucky money." Chinese New Year is not complete without spectacular fireworks and colorful dragon dances. (www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/chinese-new-year-celebration.htm)
Diwali is celebrated in India as a festival of lights. However, there are a few Hindu communities, mostly in northern India, for whom Diwali also signifies their new year. It took place on Nov. 4 this year. Like other New Year's celebrations around the world, it's a time for family, food, lights and starting over. The actual festivities vary by region, but in general, Diwali is a Hindu religious celebration lasting five days. The third day is usually the highlight. Most Hindus enjoy wearing new clothes, thoroughly cleaning their houses and even buying kitchen appliances for the occasion. "On Diwali night, most Hindus offer prayers to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the god representing good fortune and wisdom for the coming year." (www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-is-diwali-and-how-is-it-celebrated)
The Jewish people celebrate the new year by observing Rosh Hashanah, a memorial to celebrate the end of Creation Week, as outlined in the book of Genesis. This year, the holiday was celebrated from the evening of Sept. 6 to the evening of Sept. 8. Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year." Like most new year holidays, it's a time for reflection about the past year, hope for the new year, and as a significant religious holiday for the Jewish people, it's also a time for repentance. One tradition at Rosh Hashanah is to dip apples in honey as a way to usher in a sweet new year. (www.jewishunpacked.com/how-to-celebrate-rosh-hashanah/)
Islamic New Year also known as Muharram was celebrated this year from the evening of Aug. 9 to the evening of Aug. 10. Compared to other Islamic holidays, Muharram is a low-key event. Most participants celebrate the holiday by attending prayer sessions in their mosque and spending time with family. As with most other new year holidays around the world, the main focus is on reflection, remembrance and gratitude. (www.theweek.co.uk/77041/muharram-how-do-muslims-celebrate-islamic-new-year)
How ever you and your loved ones choose to ring in 2022, please be safe and considerate. Please drink responsibly and don't drive if you've been drinking.
Happy New Year, Tehachapi!