New Year's Day Is Not January 1st for Everyone

Blair's Chinese Club shows the kind of dragon seen in the street for the New Year celabration in Vietnam and China.
New Year's day is a big celebration in many the countries, but there are some countries where New Year's Day is not on the first day of January. Some countries use different calendars, so they also have different customs to celebrate this holiday.
     The sponsor for the Cambodian Club, Mrs. Natalie Chuong said, "The Cambodian New Year is not on January first. The Cambodian New Year celebration is on the 12th, 13th, and 14th of April according to the Gregorian calendar," she said. The holidays lasts for three days.
     The people of Cambodia will buy something new or adorn their homes to wait for the coming festival day. "We clean and decorate our houses as well as set up an altar to welcome the New Year spirit," Ms. Natalie said."
     On New Year's Day everyone uses a special custom to celebrate a good life in the future. "People douse each other with water as a blessing. Water can be colored red, pink, or yellow to symbolize a colorful future."
     Catherine Lee, an 11th grader, added that people would play some games such as tug-of-war, and Ahaul Chhoung at the monasteries on each day of the New Year.
Catherine said, " The tug-of-war game is two groups of people who are using a rope to try pulling against each other. The group that pulls the other group to the other side is the winner. The Ahaul Chhoung is a game that is played with a ball made of a scarf.
Mostly people think that adults give gifts to their children, but for Cambodian New Year it's different. "Children give money to their parents, aunts, and uncles as a sign of respect," Catherine said. They may also give food or fruit in addition.
     Cambodia is a very traditional country; they still keep their ancestor's customs. "The third day of the New Year is the day the Buddha statues in the homes and the monasteries are washed. It's meaning to most Cambodians is to ensure good rains during the coming year," she said. "Children wash the feet of their parents as a sign of respect on this day as well," Catherine said.
China and Vietnam
     China and Vietnam use the Lunar calendar. On the Lunar calendar, the New Year day is different every year. Normally it is in February, but this year New Year was on January 22.
Lunar New Year is a very big festive day for Chinese and Vietnamese people. "In the whole country companies and factories will be closed for a whole week to celebrate the big, festive New Year's Day," said Xiao Wen, a student from China.
     A week before the New Year, the people will go to purchase things and adorn their houses. "We will be buying flowers, tangerine trees, New Year couplets, and lettuce. The flowers and tangerine trees are put inside the house to decorate it. The New Year couplet is a greeting of red paper paste on the walls at home. Lettuce is used to hang outside above the door," Xiao Wen said. All of the things represent good luck in the New Year.
On New Year's Eve every family will be together to have a very, very abundant dinner. "Chinese people call it a reunion dinner," Xiao Wen said. At midnight everyone will light firecrackers to celebrate the New Year's arrival, "It's extremely noisy. No one can sleep at this time," she said.
     Also many people will be gathering in the temples, like a bunch of ants. "At midnight we will have a lot of people who go to worship god, to hope the god brings them good luck, safety and security in the New Year," she said.
     During the day there are so many activities in the streets on New Year's Day. "We will see a lot of performances such as the lion dance and dragon dance and the floats in parades on the New Year's day. It is very festive," she said. "The lion dance and the dragon dance are to keep bad spirits away."
 The Chinese people have a lot of customs for the beginning of the New Year. "On the first day of the new year we can't wash our hair or sweep in the house," Xiao Wen said, "We must wait until the second day when we can clean and do whatever we want to do." The ancestors said if we mop the house we would drive the Cai Shen away. Cai Shen is the lucky god who bestows luck on people, so the lucky god is very important for people. The people believe that in the New Year the lucky god will come in their house to make their fortune lucky," she said.
     Also the first day is only for the members of the family to celebrate. "We will greet our parents and family members. Then they will be give us red envelopes for luck. There is money inside the red envelopes."
     The second day is different. "After we worship at the altar and eat a meal on the second New Year morning, then we can to visit our friends to give greetings for the New Year. The second day is open for people to visit," she said.
     Ethiopia is another country that has a different New Year's day. According to Woubit Langano, a senior who came from Ethiopia, "The Ethiopia New Year is on September 11 on the Western calendar." The Ethiopian calendar is also seven years behind the Western calendar.
     The Ethiopians will be dressed in special clothing on New Year's day. "All of the people are wearing white clothes," said Dina Asegedew, a Blair student. Ethiopian New Year is a religious celebration. "On New Year's Eve the people will go to church," she said.
Coffee for Ethiopians is very important; the Ethiopians really like to drink it. Everyone has a coffee tree outside their house. After the New Year's lunch, the people will have a coffee celebration.
      In Ethiopia New Year's day is fun for the kids. "Those younger than 15 will go in their neighborhood to sing a New Year's song. Then the neighbors will give them money for the New Year," she said.
     Also every year the members of the family will unite to spend the New Year. "Wherever they live, even far away, they will come back to celebrate the New Year." All the relatives will be getting together to have a
great dinner.
© Copyright Silver International Newspaper, Montgomery Blair H.S. 2004 (This page was created by Quynh and Caizhen)