We are a cosmopolitan bunch here in Dongguan. Not just amongst the expat community – with an eclectic mix of Americans, Brits, Brazilians, and people from all over Europe and Africa – but also within the Chinese community too. By the end of 2012, there were around 8.5 million people in Dongguan; made up of around 6.5 million permanent migrants from all over China, and only 2 million local residents.
So, why don’t we take a look at how different cultures around the world celebrate the New Year?
In Brazil the lentil is believed to signify wealth, so on the first day of the New Year they serve lentil soup or lentils and rice. Some people will even carry seven grains of lentils with them in their wallet in an effort to attract wealth and money towards them.
The Chinese New Year date is fixed by the lunar calendar, in which a new moon marks the beginning of each new month. Chinese people believe that evil spirits dislike loud noises so they decorate their houses with plastic firecrackers. They also go to the markets to buy plants and flowers that will bring them good luck for the New Year. Lucky money is given out in red envelopes with the family name and good-luck message written on them in gold. They are given on New Year by relatives, but, only to the unmarried as well as the children of the family.
American New Year customs such as dance parties are held on New Year’s Eve to see in the year. Times Square in New York City has a ball drop hosted by a television celebrity. This is broadcast all over the United States. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve people kiss or honk car horns. Paper blowers and whistles are blown.
Bisperas ng Bagong Taon paves the way for the New Year with special meals that are prepared, and all the members of the family eat together as that’s considered to be auspicious and lucky for the year to come. The menu is decided with good luck charms in mind. Noodles are prepared for long life, whereas eggs are eaten as a symbol of new life.
New Year in the Philippines is celebrated with lots of noise and sound as it drives away all evil spirits from our life and creates space for good ones. Fireworks of different types are a common sight and they have a special name, Filipino Paputok.
ISLAMIC NEW YEAR
Muslims have their own calendar which is based on the cycles of the moon. The calendar consists of twelve months, but only has 354 days unlike other calendars such as the Gregorian or Jewish calendar. For this reason the Islamic New Year moves eleven days backwards through the seasons each year.
Muharram is the first month of the Muslim year, with its first day celebrated as New Year’s Day. The Islamic New Year throughout the world is held quietly, without the festive atmosphere of other New Year celebrations.
Ok, all of the above is great, but what about doing something together at home as a family? Never fear, I have you covered! So even if it is a few days after the New Year, kids love noise and it is the holiday period, so why not make your very own NOISEMAKER!
Small empty plastic soda bottles
Small jingle bells (optional)
Make sure the bottles are washed or at least rinsed because if they’re sticky inside the beans and bells may stick to the sides rather than getting optimal noisemaking capability. Add a handful of dry beans and bells (optional) to each one and then secure the cap.
To decorate your New Year’s noisemakers, cover them in wrapping paper and decorate with stickers and curling ribbon. Don’t be limited by my suggestions, come up with your own creative ways to decorate your New Year’s noisemakers!