“The New Year heralds happiness and harmony for one and all”.
New Year’s Eve is the harbinger of all those awaited moments, which act like a concourse of happy times, success and loads of laughter that we have experienced throughout the year. And all such moments become happier still when New Year celebrations add to their splendor. The entire spree that keeps us busy before the arrival of New Year aims at bringing in new hopes along with a strong feeling that the coming year will herald happiness and harmony. Thus, the last day of the going year and the first day of the New Year are the days when the festive mood reigns supreme in the minds of everyone. On such occasions one can be forgiven for a little unwarranted craziness, for the effervescence of all that joy, celebration and gaiety can go to one’s head. New Year’s Day is the first of the calendar year and the celebrations are both festive and serious. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to break bad habits or to start good ones. Whether one is able to stand by those resolutions is another matter altogether. Some pensively ponder over the mistakes committed during the past year vowing resolutely to refrain from going down that sorry path again. It is a time to reflect on the past and envision a future, perhaps, in a world where people live together in peace and harmony. Let us bring you to the different celebrations of New Year from around the world.
Let’s take a glimpse about how other cultures including ours in Borbon celebrate New Year…
THE CHINESE NEW YEAR
Chinese New Year is one of the most awaited festivals in China. The New Year eve as well as the Chinese New Year is celebrated with the family and a banquet in honor of departed ancestors which is held on the eve of the Chinese New Year. It is a belief that the spirits of departed relatives will join the living in order to celebrate the arrival of the New Year together. (Definitely not for the fainthearted, I should think). The Chinese New Year Eve Party includes wearing a new set of clothes and shoes. The elders distribute money to the young ones in red envelopes, called a ‘lee see’ or lucky money envelope. Red banners or couplets are placed all around the house with New Year wishes and symbols of good fortune inscribed in gold. A tray of eight different types of candles is kept, each symbolizing good fortune. The traditional food items include Jai, Fish and chicken noodles and desserts. Chinese dumplings imply wealth as they are in shape of ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots.
THE IRANIAN NEW YEAR
The Iranian New Year is No-Rooz which means “New Day”. It is traditionally the exact beginning of Spring. Iranians consider No-Rooz as the biggest celebration of the year and start with cleaning their houses, and buying new clothes for the occasion. But a major part of New Year rituals is setting the “Haft Seen” or seven specified items which are: Seeb (apple), Sabze (green grass), Serke (Vinegar), Samanoo (a meal out of wheat), Senjed (a special kind of berry), Sekke (coin) and Seer (garlic). Zoroastrians today have the ritual of growing seven seeds as a reminder that this is the seventh feast of creation, while their sprouting into new growth symbolized resurrection and eternal life to come.
THE NEW YEAR IN THE WEST
In the United States, many people go to New Year’s Eve parties. Crowds gather in Times Square in New York City, on State Street in Chicago, and in other public places. At midnight, bells ring, siren sound, firecrackers explode, and everyone shouts, “Happy New Year!” People also drink a toast to the New Year and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. On New Year’s Day, most people visit their relatives, attend religious services, or watch football games on television. Some people attend parades, such as the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California and the Mummer’s Parade in Philadelphia.
THE NEW YEAR IN BORBON
In our hometown of course, many older people go to mass at Saint Sebastian Church while the young gather at the plaza for New Year’s Eve disco. Before midnight, most people including the youngsters will go to church to witness the countdown and welcoming of the New Year which is aptly celebrated with loud sound of the trumpets from public vehicles, the clattering of empty cans and gallons purposely attached at the rare end of moving vehicles just to create some clamor whilst making turpitudes from the plaza, then traversing as far as the last coastal barangay of the town. Blasting sounds of firecrackers from the houses of affluent people in town will also add glitters to the celebration including the countdown instigated at the plaza with a jubilant crowd shouting Happy New Year. In homes, some families prepare sumptuous meals to be shared as salo-salo among family members and relatives. As a tradition, some will wear dresses and shirts in polka dots or anything red with an imprint and patterns of round figures.
NEW YEAR CUSTOMS
Asians, particularly the Chinese, believe in driving out evil and bad luck for the year ahead by creating loud noises. At the stroke of midnight, Filipino children, and sometimes adults, jump up from the floor to ensure growing taller in coming year. Most families in the Philippines and other parts of Asia try as much as possible to collect eight types of round fruits for New Year’s Eve. Irish families strike Christmas bread on walls and doors to drive away bad spirits and misfortunes. While Italians eat balls of dough soaked in honey to secure a sweet year.