A Glimpse Into New Year’s Traditions Around The World

Having lived and worked in six different countries in the past ten years, I have come to appreciate what binds us together as one human race. One such example is the idea of a New Year. Now, while the idea of having a fresh year annually is universal, the ‘when’ differs. Officially we welcome a new year on the first of January every calendar year. However, when you trace back a cultural identity to its roots, new beginnings are marked by seasons. Here are a few global New Year festivals.

A glimpse at one of the Shankranti traditions: Creating elaborate Rangoli decorations at the entrance of the house.

Shankranti (January 14)

The parties are officially hosted on New Year’s Eve with many people staying awake through the night to usher in the next year. However, before a global calendar was followed, the official start of the year was Shankranti, Maghi, Mag Bihu or Pongal. It is a festival that marks the first day of the Sun’s journey out of the winter solstice.

Mooncakes can taste divine or they can taste a bit dodgy, depending on the filling you prefer. I prefer the sweeter ones with Pandan or custard fillings. But whatever your individual taste, they are works of art!

Chinese New Year (February 8)

Celebrated by Chinese people and people of Chinese origin globally in February, this festival marks the beginning of the spring harvest season. It is often celebrated by sharing moon cakes and gifting red envelopes with money. You know it’s coming up to the New Year when you see colourful dragons and stunning lanterns on display. 

Nyepi (March 9)

This is the Balinese New Year and marks the first day of the Saka lunar-based Calendar. Instead of a fireworks and fanfare, the Balinese welcome the New Year with some mindfulness and rest. Most spend their day in silence, reflecting on the year gone by and making plans for the next year. Everything on the island is closed save for emergency services.

Nowruz (March 20)

While this festival is the mark of Spring, Nowrus is celebrated as the start of the New Year, when winter is over and life begins anew in nature. Zoroastrian and Baha’I communities celebrate their new year by cleaning out their houses and their lives, leaving space for new beginnings and resolutions.

Aluth Avurudda (April 14)

This Sinhalese festival, unlike other traditional New Year festivities, marks the end of the harvest season. Coinciding with Tamil New Year and Kerala New Year (Vishu), the New Year is celebrated with freshly harvested food, sweet treats, new clothes and spending quality time with family.

Rosh Hashanah (October 2)

The traditional Jewish New Year is a two-day holiday that commemorates the end of the seven days of creation as mentioned in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. The celebration is a subtle melange between festive cheer and quiet contemplation. 

Raʼs as-Sanah al-Hijrīyah (October 3)

Marking the first day of Muharram, the first month of the Muslim Calendar, the Islamic New Year is a celebration of the emigration (called Hijra) of Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. The New Year is ushered in by the first sighting of the moon.

Murador New Year (October 30)

Murador is a Western Australian Aborignal tribe that celebrates New Year’s Day every year on October the 30th. The day is earmarked as a time for friendship, for being grateful for the year just gone by and for making amends with family and friends you have fallen out with. While the Murador people are now extinct, many Australians mark this day in their own way.

Around The World In 3 Pictures

I love the N-N-1 no matter how many entries we get in. All you need is one different perspective of the same date and the same time. I don’t really have the words to express the powerful emotions it evokes in me. I hope you enjoy this edition as much as I did.

 

I sought out a quiet place for my picture this time around. I love graveyards. There is a calm serenity that is hard for city dwellers to find. Though, truth be told, I would love a graveyard if I lived on top of a mountain. This is one of the Catholic graveyards in Lafayette. The Catholic ones tend to have more older trees and rolling landscape. It is almost enough to make me consider becoming Catholic and be buried rather than cremated. But the odds are that I shan’t. I wonder if I can find a graveyard on a mountaintop to visit.

Norm Houseman, Classical Gasbag

Milo drove me to and from the barcode barn

For my first checkup

Since being released.

 

I was surprised to discover

That I missed the place

With all the rules and

Cannots that go with it.

 

I even missed Nurse Grumple of the Shiny Pate,

With the sour disposition and fishy eyes.

Ready to slap you if no one was watching.

I must plan my revenge!

 

They asked me if I had had any problems.

I said “No.”

They asked me if I was taking my meds.

I said “Yes.”

They asked me if I had found a new job yet.

I said “No.”

I lied. I am back working as a bartender.

I also failed to mention the bottle of Jim Beam Milo was holding for me in his car.

 

I may skip my next session.

Natalie Garvois

 

I inadvertently picked an N-N-1 without realising how many firsts I would be capturing on my phone. Normally, I would pick a normal day with the hope that it would spread the philosophical message of ‘what’s boring and normal for you is exotic and exciting to someone else’.

This day in history marked the first trip abroad for my 4 month old niece – first trip for her parents with her on a flight, her first flight, using her first passport for the first time, visiting a beach for the first time, and the first time she did a flawless crawl. You get the picture.

This picture is also a reminder to me to actually get out and do things that are on my list. I knew of this city beach (Cologne is nowhere near the ocean, this is a naturally occurring beach by the river Rhine) but only got around to visiting it when Isabelle was here. And now that it’s getting colder again, I regret not spending every summer weekend there.

Me.

The Cologne House Hunt

If I have only one complaint two complaints about Cologne, it’s that people smoke way too much, and the housing market is a complete nightmare. In no other country I’ve moved to have I felt the possiblity of being homeless so keenly!

To spare you the drama, let me just say that I’ve already been lucky enough to find a lovely house right in the middle of old town. Cobblestone streets, old buildings, reading nooks, live sports showings, birds, the river … I can’t really complain!

But getting here has been one psychological nightmare ride full of sleepless nights and anxiety ridden tears. It’s not just the housing market here is so limited or that most houses have been repurposed for students who have no desire to host couples, it’s also that scammers thrive in this situation.

I was approached by many of these with lovely photos of stunningly furnished houses for such reasonable prices you can’t help but respond. If I wasn’t so good at rooting out catfishers (it was literally my job for a while), I’d be a few thousand Euros poorer.

The approach was quite creative. They’d say they were European and had only just bought and furnished the house, but that they’d gotten an unpassable opportunity abroad. So they thought of renting their house out through AirBnb. However, if someone is interested in it long term, they could also do it through the same way.

Now, if you’re deseperate for a house and hear the words AirBnb, you automatically trust that this is legit. But if you’re someone who actually uses airbnb, you suddenly start to smell something dodgy!

I also came across a second scam where they ask you to transfer money through western union. Apparently bank statements are not legit proof you have enough money to pay for a house.

When I asked why a money transfer, this is what they said.

While I hope that no innocent house seeker buys into these thinly veiled scams, it definitely made good conversation starters. And for that, I’m grateful.

The Perks Of Dating A Teacher

My mum was a teacher when we were growing up. She eventually gave it up for non-governmental, non-profit work but there are still embarrassing memories of being treated as a teacher’s daughter. However, being as young as I was back then, some of these memories have blurred into one and have started to fade. I am, now, however, dating a bookie-turned-writer-turned-teacher. This brings with it its set of perks!

You appreciate the mornings –

Our day starts at 5am, the unholy time his annoying alarm starts chirping. No matter what stage of sleep I am in, once that alarm goes off, my day begins. Even if my work starts at a more normal hour of day, I am forced given the opportunity to literally listen to pre-sunrise birds. The three hours I gain from this means I have time to binge watch the blacklist go to the gym and eat a healthy breakfast.

You appreciate the nights –

Having woken up at unearthly hours means that your body is slowly fading by the late twentyonehunderhours. This means that the three hours that you do get from the time you leave work are spent in the best way possible – cooking a meal, binge watching ‘Making a Murderer’ while he either grades papers or lesson plans spending quality time together and sleeping. Weeknight date nights? Umm, what’s that?

You appreciate the weekends –

A teacher’s idea of a lie in during the weekend means waking up at 7am in the morning! When you date someone who is a loud waker-uper, you are doomed given the gift of having a really long weekend. So instead of waking up shortly past noon, you have the whole day ahead of you to do whatever you want. Unless, of course, he’s brought the lesson plans home again.

You appreciate your health –

Working with cold-carrying munchkins kids means you become quite kid too. This has helped me take to naturally occurring sources of Vitamin C like it is the newest weight loss fad. This also means that I have become quite good at tossing masks at his face and ducking for cover every-time I hear a sneeze making hot chicken noodle soup and being the excellent nurse that I am.

You never stop learning –

If you are lucky enough, you get to hear their teacher voices all the time. You not only get to brush up on nursery rhymes you thought you’d hear again. Sometimes when a point is being made, certain people (I’m not naming any names) stand up and make the point. On the plus side, you get to be up to date with the latest hits on the 2016 nursery rhyme chart!

Go find yourself a teacher. If nothing else, you will get ugly adorable fridge magnets and wall hangings to decorate your house!

Adios 2015

I’m a little late to the party, I know. But ever since I put it out into the universe that I wanted to create and put out a novel, work got extremely work like and dumped me with more tasks than time in the day. Needless to say, I failed that particular task miserably. However, the whole of 2015 was not a failure. Instead of tempting fate and starting an another ambitious novel titled ‘What Happened To Me in 2015’ or the less ambitious version of ‘How Everything Can Change In a Year‘, I created a picture collage of my 12 highlights of the last year!

2015 Photo Snapshot Cupitonians
Click on the image for a full size view!

And here is a list – since I can’t help myself!

  1. I attended a music festival in Bangalore and the headline band was Alt-J, one of my most favourite bands of all time. This is big because growing up we never got to go to concerts (part of the reason being that not many artists came to India). I attended it with people I love and there just is something about hearing your favourite music live while swaying in the rain to the rhythms that move you.
  2. The boy moved countries for me, yes. But I love the fact that over the year he has gotten to know my family better to the extent of having inside jokes with them. I’ve always wanted to be with someone like that and watching them cuss out identically during family sports night just fills me with so much happiness. It really is the little things.
  3. We watched a lot of sports. I don’t get to do it too much now that I have moved countries but Bangalore gave us the opportunity to watch our cricket team and football team in action. So what if there was a little (okay, fine, it was a lot) monsoon!
  4. The third image is us watching the finals with Bangalore Football Club (BFC) and the fourth image is of us at a Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) match
  5. As a going away present, my colleagues and dear, dear friends gifted me a Kindle. It is such a blessing because I love reading so much but have had to leave all my books behind because of the move. Thanks to the Kindle, I can now read anywhere and it weighs next to nothing despite having a billion billion books.
  6. We moved to Bangkok for a lot of reasons. The Erawan Shrine became a big landmark for us because I work next to it and it was bombed shortly after we moved. It is a symbol of how resilient we are as humans when it comes to disaster and ultimately, what it is that makes us humans
  7. Bangkok is a BIG city in the true sense of the word. I share a love-hate relationship with it. But every time I get down about it, a breathtaking market pops up. I’m not much of a shopper, but the markets here have been such a delight!
  8. Part of why I love being in this part of the world is all the travel opportunities – I have so far been to two coastal areas and one beautiful island. Bangkok is another gem that we still haven’t explored fully. In the photo here is the lovely island of Koh Samet.
  9. Photo of the pier at Pattaya (Which reminds me that maybe I should write more travel journals!)
  10. The Bangkok river side and Asiatique
  11. I have always wanted to travel for work. I realise that the idea of travelling for work is much more romantic than it really is, now that I am leaving behind someone. However, while previous travel for work experiences were limited to one end of Bangalore to another, 2015 took me to Malaysia and one of the most beautiful office spaces I have ever seen.
  12. December saw Star Wars (Weeeee!), a new love for BB8. It also included an unplanned trip back to Bangalore for Christmas with family.

The most important event was the chance to meet and spend time with my niece. I am forbidden from posting her photos on online platforms (her parents have a thing about it I can’t really explain!). However, I never thought it possible to love someone so truly without actually knowing much about the person but I am truly in love with that little munchkin.

Can’t wait for what 2016 will unfold!