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  1. #1
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    New Year Customs in Asia


    New Year Customs in Asia

    People in Asia, like everywhere else in the world celebrate the day marking the start of a new year, a day when we leave behind the problems of the past, we find new hope, a day when we begin anew.

    Many people wonder why is New Year celebrated in different days around the world. The answer is that there are 3 basic calendars, which give many possibilies to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

    - The solar calendar – The Western calendar, with 12 months of 30 and 31 days, in which solstices and equinoxes fall on about the same date every year and a leap-day is added every four years.

    - The lunar calendar – The Islamic calendar, which is a sequence of twelve lunar months and tracks the phases of the moon but shifts annually relative to the solar year. In this type of calendar months do not correlate with the four seasons.

    - The lunisolar calendar – The Chinese and Jewish calendars, in which extra lunar months are added from time to time, most years having 12 months but every second or third year has 13, in order to keep the solar and lunar years approximately synchronized.


    New Year in China, Korea, Vietnam

    New Year Celebration in China
    Chinese New Year is defined as the second new moon after the winter solstice, so it begins sometime between late January and mid-February (which, in the Chinese calendar, starts forty-five days after the winter solstice). The Chinese New Year is celebrated not only in China, but also in Korea, Vietnam (where it is called Tet) as well as in Chinese communities from all around the world.

    Most customs are meant to bring good luck in the following year, so, before the end of the current year, people try to pay off all of their debts, children are given money wrapped in red envelopes as presents (red is the color of good fortune) and everyone tries to put on new clothes. Dragon dances are performed at New Year to scare away evil spirits.
    The house is cleaned before the beginning of the New Year, with the meaning of getting rid of the old and welcoming the new. Family members will normally stay awake during the New Year night. Some people just stay until the midnight, after the fireworks.
    One of the most important features of a Chinese New Year celebration is a feast with many special kinds of food with lucky connotations: noodles for long life, fish (because the Chinese word for fish, ‘yu’, also sounds like the word for ‘abundance’), and sweet rice cakes for a rich, sweet life.

    In Vietnam, Tet is also considered a birthday celebration. Along with Koreans, Vietnamese measure age by the number of lunar new years they have lived through, so a baby will officially turn one on his first Tet, even if he was only born a few days before the event takes place.

    People wish one another ‘Gongxi Facai’, meaning ‘Congratulations, may you get rich’.


    New Year in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Sri Lanka

    New Year Celebration in Thailand
    The Thai New Year, Songkran, is celebrated in Thailand, Cambodia (where it is called Chaul Chnam Thmey), Laos, and some other parts of Southeast Asia between 13th to 15th April. Songkran is a festival of purification, cleaning and renewal, so, its main characteristic is water-splashing. People roam the streets with containers of water or water guns and splash everyone around.

    Besides the water-splashing, people celebrating Songkran also go to a wat (Buddhist monastery) to bring food to monks and pour water mixed with fragrance over Buddha statues and images.

    The Thai traditional greeting is ‘สวัสดีปีใหม่’ (sawatdi pi mai), literally meaning ‘Happy New Year’.


    New Year in Japan

    New Year Celebration in Japan
    Traditionally Japan also celebrated a lunar New Year (Setsubun), but since 1873, Japan adopted the Western calendar and the official New Year’s Day has been moved to January 1st. Some people celebrate both the traditional New Year and the modern one, others have simply transposed the old customs to the new holiday.

    At the New Year every house is thoroughly swept and dried beans are scattered in every room of the house to chase away evil spirits. At midnight on December 31st the bells of Buddhist temples are rung 108 times (to symbolize the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief, as well as the number of beads on a Buddhist rosary).

    Before sunrise on January 1st, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the first sunrise of the New Year, called ‘hatsuhinode’.

    People commonly great each other with ‘Kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu’, meaning ‘I hope for your favour again in the coming year’.


    New Year in The Philippines

    New Year Celebration in Philippines
    Round shapes (representing coins) are believed to symbolize prosperity for the coming year in the Philippines. Many Filipino families display baskets of round fruits on the dining table for New Year’s Eve. Other people eat exactly 12 fruits at midnight, as many as the months of the year that is about to end (grapes, which are also eaten at midnight in Spain, are the easiest choice).

    The traditional Filipino New Year’s greeting is ‘Manigong Bagong Taon’, which literally means ‘A prosperous New Year’.


    New Year in Bali, Indonesia

    New Year Celebration in Bali, Indonesia
    Most people from the Indonesian island of Bali follow an ancient form of Hinduism, and their new year, Nyepi, is based on a Hindu soli-lunar calendar. On Nyepi eve people walk to the main crossroads of their village accompanied by gamelan music where they perform a sort of exorcism ceremony to drive away evil, symbolized by huge ‘monsters’, which are figurines made of paper and bamboo.

    On Nyepi itself, everything is silent, streets are empty, no fire is lit, no food cooked, no music is played, and radios and televisions are turned off. People are forbidden to leave their house, to make love or to talk more than strictly necessary. So, Bali welcomes the New Year in silence, with reverent self-control.

    Except for the Hindu Balinese, most Indonesians are Muslims and they celebrate the New Year on the first day of the first month of the Muslim calendar. The New Year day is for quiet celebration and for reflection.

    The most common Indonesian greeting for New Year is ‘Selamat Tahun Baru’, literally meaning ‘Happy New Year’.


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  3. #2
    Ultimate Yaoi Expert Miss RED's Avatar
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    Re: New Year Customs in Asia

    There will be countdown on 31st night, fireworks ( I love those!) and we also throw a big feast and open houses to all races.

    And the children will get their new year money ><

  4. #3
    Yaoi Board Leader xKai's Avatar
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    Re: New Year Customs in Asia

    awesomeness! I didn't know about most of them *___*

  5. #4
    Ultimate Yaoi Expert Miharu.187's Avatar
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    Re: New Year Customs in Asia

    This is way I like cultures and traditions

  6. #5
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    Re: New Year Customs in Asia

    I only knew the about the bells ringing 108 times on December 31st the bells of Buddhist temples are rung 108 times. The first time I read about that was in Ryu Murakami's In the Miso Soup, where right at the end the New Year is beautifully described. Thanks for reminding me about that- I have to go back and read that book again

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    Yaoi Legend Ava's Avatar
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    Re: New Year Customs in Asia

    Countdown to 2015!

  8. #7
    Ultimate Yaoi Expert itsapanda16's Avatar
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    Re: New Year Customs in Asia

    I can vouch that, the Chinese New Year, it's like a 15 days long celebration, plus more, at least that's what I'm told. I love it or at least the alternative version, where I'm from.

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