Saturday, January 28, 2017

Celebrating Multiple New Years

Do you celebrate multiple new years in a year?  I'm not talking about crossing the new year in two different time zones, but crossing the new year in different cultures or calendars.

Crossing the new year in two different time zones is very much doable, and there are dozens of articles which talk about that from crossing a time zone border or even the international date line.  And even at any time of the year, I am often excited when I take a trip from Asia to America via the Pacific Ocean, because I get to gain some hours due to the time zone difference.  I can leave my house in the morning, take a 9-12 hour flight and still arrive in America that same morning and sometimes, even earlier. In a world where time passes by so quickly, it is a rare treat to gain some hours in a day and that is something that a lot of people would cherish to have.

But there is another way to celebrate multiple new years, especially if you are multi cultural.  It could get confusing!  So here goes a funny wishful thought.  Imagine, you don't just gain hours, you gain days, weeks and even months.  And I often wondered whether being able to celebrate multiple new years, you get second chances to do what you need to do before a year ends! Theoretically speaking, we gain some time in a year when we would be able to experience New Year again months or so after much of the world have crossed it on January 1st on the Gregorian Calendar.

So here's an example using the Chinese New Year.  Most Chinese believe that these things need to be accomplished before or on New Years Day:
- clean the house before the New Year comes to avoid cleaning out good luck on the 1st day of the year
- pay off debts before the New Year comes to avoid debts in the new year
- have a haircut before the New Year comes to avoid cutting off good luck on the 1st day of the year
- wear red 
- have 12 round fruits around the kitchen to bring good fortune for the next 12 months
- eat noodles for long life
- have a trouble-free first day of the year to enjoy a trouble-free year ahead
- start your new year's resolution
- set off firecrackers to ward off the evil

So if you forget to pay off debts for example or did not make a new year's resolution, before January 1st of the Gregorian calendar, do you get a second chance to pay off your debts and start off a new resolution before the first day of the lunar calendar?  Or are you just fooling yourself? Hahaha! I guess at the end of the day, we get to do both and we need to double our efforts too. But best of all, we also get to double our blessings.

Over the last 2 years, I've celebrated many new years, not just on different calendars but also with different cultures and time zones.  Year 2015, we ended the year with a bang and crossed the New Year' in Barcelona, Spain.  While some traditions sounded familiar to us, one particular special highlight that I've never experienced was the eating of the 12 grapes right when the clock strikes 12 to welcome the New Year, one for each of the first 12 seconds of the new year as a bell dongs in the background.  Each grape represents good luck for every month of the new year as long as you swallow everything after the 12th dong, haha!

Year 2016 Chinese New Year in February, I get to celebrate back home where we would gather as a family to have dinner together.  Nothing fancy, but as fellow foodies, we would enjoy the bonding and camaraderie of eating together happily and everyone in lively red to cross the New Year.  Back home, we see some fireworks across the city with many of the people warding off evil spirits as we cross the New Year.

At the end of Year 2016, we spent the last few days in yet another country, in Japan.  While the Spanish New Year was busy and lively, the Japanese New Year was a tad quieter.  We visited a temple as most locals did and offered our thanksgiving and prayers for a quiet and trouble-free new year.  We were too tired though to stay up for midnight to hear the bells ringing for 108 times which symbolizes getting rid of the 108 worldly desires.

Back home for Chinese New Year today, we once again celebrated foodie-style with a dinner with family.  Ironically, we would have a Japanese dinner instead of a Chinese one and that's because that's the favorite cuisine we all enjoy.  We also knew that for most Chinese restaurants, the head chefs are usually out for this very important holiday as well and thus, may not be the best time to go for top quality Chinese food.  Besides, we would not want to miss having Japanese buckwheat soba noodles for long life. While I missed the often spectacular New Year fireworks show for two years now, I got a chance to see a great show just out from my balcony.  This year's Chinese New Year fireworks were more intense and while I enjoy a quiet time in my own balcony with the cool breeze blowing on my face, the dark sky was lit up quite nicely and I could feel the glow around me.

Such a great way to start another year!