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.

Time For Another Adventure Through Space And Time

I’ve exhausted all my money on “budget-friendly” holidays this summer but have still not a made a dent on the colossus that is my Wanderlust. The time is ripe for another N-N-1, an opportunity to see various parts of the world for FREE!

For the uninitiated, N-N-1 is the brainchild of one of my best friends Norm Houseman who blogs over at Classical Gasbag. The genius idea (some would say I only think that cause he’s one of my favourite people, but those people would be wrong #hatersgonnahate) is an attempt to see through the lens of the blogosphere where they are at that moment, whatever they are doing.

Simply put, bloggers from all over the world take a photo on a select date and time, whatever timezone they are in. The result is a magnificent online kaleidoscope of postcards that I am quite frankly addicted to.

You can find some of our older N-N-1 masterpieces by clicking on the link.

If you want to participate, please take a photo on SEPTEMBER 1st 2018 at 5:00pm YOUR LOCAL TIME. Send me the photo along with a 100 -200 word ‘caption’ to labyrinthiroam at gmail dot com within a week and I will publish it.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it, and to also invite any of your friends who you think might be interested!

Good luck! Bonne Chance! Viel Glück! Sterkte! Buona fortuna! Selamat Maju Jaya! Bahati njema! Buena suerte! And so on!

 

The German Maibaum Tradition

The thrill of living in a new country is always unparalleled. Once you get a hit of this drug called travelling, you’d never really get tired of the highs it brings you. When you invest time and effort in getting past the anxiety, the fear of the unknown, the battle with unfamiliarity, the feeling of being a stranger, you will have a bucketload of endless discoveries to make. And there is no joy more fulfilling than that.

Germany has been similar to me in terms of the journey I make in every new country that I live in, but the familiarity of the process of learning – be it a new language or a local tradition you had never heard about, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

One of the most heartwarming traditions here (to me), is the Mai Baum. I went to bed on the night of the 31st, and when I woke up on the 1st of May, there were birch trees in every other garden decorated with colourful crepe paper, and a bright red wooden heart with a lady’s name on it.

I later found out that Maibaum is a tradition going back to the 16th century, and that I had just witnessed the 21st-century version of it. In the modern-day version of it, a man in love with a woman buys a birch tree, decorates it and writes her name on her heart, and then has to wait till the lady (and her family) are asleep before leaving it in her balcony or garden. They have to then guard it overnight so that other men in love with her or just mischief makers who are looking to make a quick buck steal it from where it is.

I heard that in the countryside, it gets a bit more exciting. The boy has to not only buy a tree without raising suspicion, and decorate it so no one sees it, he has to also sneak up to her roof overnight and place it there. If he is so unlucky so as to have his tree taken hostage, he has to buy it again from the treenapers!

The exciting part of it being brought to the present day is that now even girls can participate in this tradition. Every 4 years, it is the girl’s turn!

Do you have a labour day celebration like this where you’re from? I’d love to hear about it!

The Subtle Art Of Blending

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Bangkok green spaces! #parks #thailand #skytrain

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If you’ve come here for a makeup tutorial, I’m afraid you’re going to be very disappointed – not just at my serious inability at the art, but also at this post’s lack of anything useful. I’m talking more in terms of our ability, as humans, to blend into whatever situation/geographic location/circumstance we are thrown into.

I’m coming up to two years in Thailand and I walk the roads that once cause me anxiety like its something I’ve always done. I am able to hail a cab and direct the driver without breaking a sweat. I walk past monitor lizards like they are neighbourhood strays. I add P’ (polite prefix that means brother or sister) in front of people’s name and end my  sentences with a ka, even when I’m travelling out of Thailand. I have blended in so much that I don’t even break a sweat at 37 degrees heat, I know the corners of the skytrain to squeeze into during rush hour, and I carry flip flops and an umbrella in my bag because duh, how could you not?

Humans have an ability to adapt to anything, and to do it without even realising it. When I went home for a short break home a few weeks ago, I casually mentioned something funny P’Thor did or that the mister’s favourite student is Boeing. It took me a while figure out that the looks of confusion and the extra jovial laughter was because they still think of Thailand, its quirks and culture, as strange.

I didn’t even bat an eye-lid when I found out that Boeing’s younger sister is called Airbus. I just nodded. It’s now a completely normal name to me. In my new world, evening markets are a norm, mom and pop ramen shops are around every corner, just next to a 7/11. Cats say me-o, trains make a ‘poon poon’ sound, and saying ka does not make you an imitator of crows! I am at ease with people in various stages of transition, and am never confused about what pronoun to use for whom.

Funny this transition from strange to familiar.