My favorite holiday is the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year). The date of the Spring Festival varies each year depending on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. It's the first day of the first lunar month of the lunar calendar. This year, Chinese New Year is on Thursday, February 19. This is the most important Chinese traditional holiday and it isn’t only celebrated in China. Because there are Chinese people outside of mainland China, there are many celebrations held by the Chinese population in other areas of the world, including right here in Lincoln! The Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) at UNL holds China Night every year to celebrate the Spring Festival.
Families get together on the eve of the Chinese New Year for a big dinner, including pork, beef, chicken, and fish. The dinner gives thanks for the past year and acknowledges the hope for more success in the New Year. During the dinner, there are toasts, when we offer wishes for prosperity for the people in attendance. After dinner, most families will watch TV while eating various delicious deserts.
The traditional Chinese New Year desserts include Eight Treasures Rice Pudding, Candy Tray, and Assorted Candies. My mom told me that when she was a kid, she only got to eat dessert during the Spring Festival, and everything was homemade. Now, we can buy these desserts from grocery stores and most of them are served year-round. My mom talks about what it was like to prepare for New Year’s as a kid. Doing all the cooking took lots of work, but then they enjoyed the treats even more!
At eight o’clock, most families watch the Spring Festival Gala on TV. This program lasts for four hours, going all the way to midnight. Leading up to the New Year, everyone on TV, from the actors to the audience, will count down together on the stage. Since everyone stays up until midnight to greet the New Year, this is a tradition called staying-up. It’s a lot like the New Year countdown in Times Square!
The next day, the first day of the Lunar New Year, people visit friends and relatives to wish them a healthy and wonderful New Year. This is called New Year Visits. Kids are given money in red envelopes by older people. The gift money represents well wishes for the younger generation for a wealthy life. New Year visits are usually made in the morning, and I am always happy to go with my parents because I know I'll get lots of gift money. I enjoy deciding how to spend it!
The Spring Festival is my favorite festival because I'll enjoy lots of delicious food, spend many hours with my family, watch interesting TV programs, and receive gift money.
New York City
One of the most classic New Year’s celebrations in the U.S. takes place in New York City. The Big Apple toasts the New Year in a variety of ways, from the ball drop in Times Square to special multi-course dinners from the city’s best celebrity chefs. Traditional celebrations include a glass of champagne and the big countdown at midnight. Add a special touch to your trip by browsing BedandBreakfast.com for a great local B&B with a hearty New Year’s Day brunch.
Jewish New Year
Not all New Year’s celebrations take place on December 31. The Jewish New Year, called Rosh Hashanah, is in September. During this two-day holiday, families celebrate tradition through food and prayer services. A traditional celebration will almost always include slices of apple dipped in honey, a symbol of a sweet new year. This is the first of the High Holy Days.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is celebrated around the globe, from China to cities around the globe that are home to a Chinese population. Taking place in late January or early February, this celebration is one of the most important holidays of the year. You don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy the feasting, fireworks, dragon dances, and glowing lanterns of this holiday. From New York City to San Francisco to Chinatown in Sydney, Australia, this holiday is a festive one.
Eastern Orthodox Church New Year
The Orthodox Church in Russia (along with other countries like Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine) celebrate the New Year on January 14. This is a religious holiday, celebrated with family feasts. If you’re planning a trip to Russia to celebrate New Year’s Eve, you will stay want to be there on December 31. Although the religious holiday falls on January 14, the public holiday is January 1, and New Year’s Eve is home to fireworks, feasts, and festivities.
Balinese New Year
New Year on the island of Bali is celebrated in March, coinciding with their lunar New Year. If you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, join in on the 12-hour dedicated silence and meditation that sweeps across the island. Many cities in the U.S. also celebrate the Balinese New Year with yoga camps and meditation clinics.
We may have one idea of what a traditional New Year’s holiday entails — but traveling can open our eyes to how other cultures celebrate in their own special way. It is possible to celebrate the New Year throughout the year if you turn to different cultures. Perhaps one of these traditional celebrations will influence how you decide to spend New Year's Eve this year.By Emily Starbuck Crone