Chinese people have the tradition of celebrating the New Year with dragon and lion dances|
People visit the temples to pray for good fortune in the New Year|
Source: My UM
In China, New Year is a holiday many people, especially
young children, look forward to, because it is a time when they can put on new
clothes and spend some quality time with relatives and friends they haven’t
seen for a long time. But in today’s fast-paced world, has New Year celebration
lost its meaning and become just another yawn-inspiring cookie-cutter practice everywhere?
Or do people in different countries celebrate the holiday differently? To find
out, we interviewed several UM students about the interesting New Year
traditions in their home countries. Check it out!
Enjoy New Year Dinner
Evelin Rizzo, an exchange student of the Faculty of Social
Sciences, is from Andrano, a small friendly town in southeast Italy with a
population of less than 5,000. In Italy, the New Year Eve is called ‘La festa
di San Silvestro’, which means ‘The Feast of San Silvestro’, while the New
Year’s Day is called ‘Capodanno’. As with many other holidays in Italy, food is
an important part of the New Year celebration.
On the New Year Eve, Rizzo would usually prepare an
elaborate dinner with several good friends. Lentils, which are considered to
bring good luck in the coming year, and sausages, believed to be a harbinger of
prosperity, are a staple of the New Year Eve dinner. After dinner, they would
go out to watch the spectacular Fireworks Dance and musical performances on the
street. When the countdown starts, people open champagnes to drink with their
friends. On Capodanno, Rizzo would share another lavish lunch with new friends.
What about her family? ‘We already celebrated it on Christmas,’ she says.
Jump High for Growth,
Eat Noodles for Long Life
Lisandra Bautista from the Department of Government and
Public Administration was born in Macao, but she always observes the New Year
traditions of her home country—the Philippines. Before studying at UM, Bautista
lived in the city of Naga. There are many interesting New Year customs in the
Philippines. For example, when the clock strikes midnight, children will jump
as high as they can because they believe this will make them grow taller.
Although the Philippines is a predominantly Christian
country, many families celebrate the Lunar New Year like Chinese people. For
example, people keep all the doors, windows, drawers, and cupboards open when
the clock strikes midnight, because doing so is considered to bring good luck
in the coming year. Another interesting New Year custom followed in the
Philippines is wearing polka-dots dress as round shapes signify prosperity.
Traditional New Year dishes in the Philippines include
pancit bihon and pancit canton, two favorite noodle dishes served for long
life, as well as the sticky rice, which symbolises the stickiness, or unity, of
the family. Bautista normally celebrates the New Year at home, because there is
a mouthwatering tradition in her family that has nothing to do with food. ‘My
mom would throw money around the house and let me and my younger sister pick up
the money,’ she says. ‘We would race to see who could pick up more money. And
the money would become our lai see.
This tradition has become a form of entertainment in my family.’
New Year Eve’s
Bell-Ringing and Osechi-ryori
Kento Nakashige, an exchange student from the Faculty of
Business Administration, is from Osaka, Japan. On the New Year Eve, Nakashige
would have the reunion dinner with his family and watch the Red and White Song
Contest. When it approaches midnight, Japanese people, especially the elder
generation, usually visit the nearest temples or shrines, which organise
different kinds of activities. The whole Osaka turns into a sleepless city. The
temples and shrines are swarming with people trying to obtain O-mikuji, a
fortune-telling paper strip.
At midnight, Buddhist temples all over Japan will ring their
bells a total of 108 times, which symbolise the 108 earthly desires that bring
humans much suffering. Ringing the bells 108 times at the end of a year
symoblises the embrace of a new year. This is also one of the most important
New Year traditions in Japan.
On the New Year’s Day, Kento would visit his grandparents
and relatives with his parents. Together they would enjoy a holiday feast,
which would usually include sukiyaki, rice cakes, hot pot, and Osechi-ryori.
Osechi-ryori is a set of small, traditional dishes served in beautiful four
(symbolic of the four seasons) or five-layered lacquer bento boxes called
‘jubako’. Each layer has a different meaning. The dishes in the boxes must be
finished, as leaving any food unfinished or throwing it away is considered to
throw away good fortune.
Japanese people have the custom of sending New Year’s Day
postcards to their friends and relatives. The postcards usually feature one of the
12 animal signs in the Chinese zodiac system. But it is a taboo to send New
Year’s Day postcards to people in mourning.
Morna, Cape Verde’s
Rodrigo Costa of the Faculty of Science and Technology is
from Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking country off the west coast of Africa.
According to Costa, both Christmas and New Year are major holidays in Cape
Verde, during which time people go to the church to attend masses. Young people
usually attend big music parties with their friends where they listen to morna,
the national music of Cape Verde. At the New Year’s Eve party, people form into
circles with those around them, regardless of whether they know each other or
not. And together, they dance to the beat of the music, smiling and laughing as
they welcome the advent of a new year.
Dumplings, New Year’s
Gala, and Snow Play
Yang Yulin of the Department of Civil and Environmental
Engineering is from Liaoning province in northeast China. He says people from
his hometown are not particularly keen on holidays, with the only exception of
the Chinese New Year. On the eve of the Chinese New Year, his family and all
the relatives would visit his grandmother’s house where they would make
dumplings, have dinner, play poker, and watch the New Year’s Gala on CCTV. When
adults were preparing the dinner, children would go out to play with snow. The
next day, everyone in the family would get up bright and early to pay New
Year’s visits to his grandmother and the other relatives, which is an important
New Year tradition in China. Another important tradition is saying auspicious
phrases whenever you meet someone during the holiday.