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Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

A New Set of 365 Days

BIG LITTLE PEOPLE - Grace D. Chong - The Freeman

As soon as the clock struck 12 at midnight on December 31, you and I were blessed with a new set of 365 days — another new year!

How cool is that?

Before you get all excited planning your year, let’s talk about the celebration itself.  Did you know that New Year is one of the most celebrated days in the world? It is shaped by different customs and traditions. Each culture around the globe celebrates this holiday in its own unique way.

The thing is, there are many countries which celebrate New Year on different dates — not on January 1. Let’s take a peek at some of them.

* * *

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival in China, can be anytime between February and March. Many people clean their homes, put up red posters with poetic verses on it to their doors, pictures on their walls, and decorate their homes with red lanterns. It is also a time for family reunions.

Fireworks and firecrackers are set off to cast away any bad luck and bring forth good luck. Children often receive “luck” money (angpaw) in red envelopes from their elders.

* * *

In September or October, Jews believe that God opens the Book of Life for 10 days. This starts with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

During these 10 days, Jews try to atone for any sins they have committed. They also forgive anyone who has done them wrong. A ram’s horn trumpet, known as the shofar, is blown before and during Rosh Hashanah and also at the end of Yom Kippur.

* * *

In Thailand, a special three-day water festival (April 13–15) marks the Buddhists’ celebration of the New Year called Songkran.  There are parades featuring huge statues of Buddha that spray water on passersby.

In small villages, young people throw water at each other for fun. Some also release fish into rivers as an act of kindness.

During the New Year celebration, people tie strings around each other’s wrists to show their respect. A person sometimes collects many as 30 strings from different people. The strings are left on their wrists until they fall off naturally.

* * *

More New Year celebrations:

• Indonesia also has two New Year celebrations. The official one is on January 1, and another on the Islamic New Year, whose date varies from year to year.

• In Vietnam, the New Year usually begins in February.

• In Iran, New Year’s Day is on March 21.

• Each of the religious groups in India has its own date for the beginning of the year. One Hindu New Year (Baisakhi) comes sometime in April or May.

• The people in Morocco observe New Year on the tenth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year.

• The Koreans celebrate their New Year the first three days in January.

* * *

How about you? How did you celebrate New year? Email me at — [email protected]

Or visit my blogsite — www.leavesofgrace.blogspot.com.

BOOK OF LIFE

CHINESE NEW YEAR

DAY OF ATONEMENT

DURING THE NEW YEAR

NEW

NEW YEAR

ROSH HASHANAH

YEAR

YOM KIPPUR

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