Almost everyone around the world started the New Year, although not all countries celebrate at the same date or the same way, especially in Asia.
Until I came to the UK from Beijing, I always celebrated the New Year in late January or sometimes in February, depending on the day indicated by the Lunar Calendar. Chinese New Year is more like a Western Christmas, when you get together with your family and share a meal. Celebrations continue with fireworks, just like all around the world.
The biggest difference with other countries may be that on New Year's day, when most people are nursing hangovers, in China families visit relatives, exchange presents and continue the celebrations.
Despite some differences from country to country, in Asia there's a common theme that appears to be the most important thing, which is celebrating with family and friends.
Across Asia there are very similar ways of celebrating the New Year. In Japan for instance,
in the run up to New Year everyone cleans their houses, workplaces and temples. During the day traditional meals of buckwheat noodles are eaten to ensure prosperity and longevity. In the evening people gather with their families and watch national television which broadcast the Red and White Song Festival which plays the most popular song of the year.
As the Buddhist toll 108 peals of the bells for the New Year, people visit temples and shrines and pray. When they return home people go to sleep with the hope of dreaming of a hawk, Mt. Fuji or an eggplant, which are considered as good omens for the coming year.
In Korea, although most people celebrate the Solar Calendar (January 1st) others still continue to celebrate the Lunar New Year, just as we do in China. The focus of the Koreans at New Year is family. Children are encouraged to dress in traditional clothes, they follow customs of kneeling and bowing to their elders and ancestors. Gifts are exchanged and relatives wish prosperity and good fortune to each other for the coming year. In some parts of Korea there are rituals where drums and gongs are beaten to scare away the spirits from the previous year. At the end of this, friends and family gather to renew their friendship and relationships.
One thing that seems quite different from Asia from other countries is the focus on family, spending time together, renewing relationships and honoring ancestors. This are traditions found in most Asian countries.
In the contrary, it seems in the West Christmas is the time for family gatherings and New Year is the time for friends. Either way, from wherever you come from or wherever you are going to travel, have a happy, prosperous and amazing New year!
Written by Nan, Community Manager for China
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