TODAY -

New year traditions and beliefs

Bijenti Irengbam *



January 1st is supposed to be the most important day of the year, the day that will set the mood and energy for the remaining 364 days of the year. Although different cultures may celebrate the New Year on different dates, the point is that it is celebrated worldwide as the beginning of something new.

New Year traditions may vary depending on the place and their culture. Some avoid taking out the garbage and/or avoid vacuuming carpets to ensure that nothing goes out of the home during the year.

Do not leave the home before someone comes in first. Most New Year's superstitions, traditions, and customs come from the strong belief that whatever is done on the first day of the year will set the pattern for the coming year.

Argentina traditions included on New Year's Eve celebration; Running around the house carrying a suitcase, this represents you will travel more in the coming year. Another Argentina tradition is if you eat beans on New Year's you will either keep the job you have or will open up gates for new and better job in the coming year. New Year's Day is celebrated on January 1st there is another popular tradition of going for swimming in private and public pools, rivers, and lakes.

This tradition is considered to be very close to the heart of the natives of Argentina. Armenians cook a special bread for their family. The bread is kneaded with luck and good wishes pressed into dough before it is cooked.

Superstitions: No whistling particularly at night or evil spirits will come. No cutting your nails especially at night. This will shorten life span.

In Malaysia, all the clothes have to be new from head to foot. If you can only afford to renew your wardrobe once a year, then this is when to do it, to bring luck.

In Libya too, during the lunar New Year celebrations – the children are given new clothes for the occasion. So, not to go against the tide, it is a good idea to guarantee success by buying, receiving and wearing clothes. Chinese New Year is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar.

The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China and is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia. Observances traditionally all take place from the evening proceeding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival which is held on the 15th day of the year.

The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between the 21st of January and the 20th of February. Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year in the Hebrew calendar. In Traditional Judaism, Rosh Hashanah is the day we celebrate the New Year.

The words "Rosh Hashanah" mean Head (or start) of the Year. So Rosh Hashanah, as the traditional Jewish New Year, in traditional Judaism, these Ten Days are set aside for repentance—for examining our deeds and attitudes. It's a time to turn from evil, to devote more time to Torah study, to performance of its precepts, and to giving to charity.

It's not different in Japan, where this time is the most significant among the main holidays. Whereas, in Slavic countries, including Poland, families gather to celebrate a long-held tradition, Christmas Day connected to a religion, the Japanese equivalent to this holiday is Oshogatsu –New Year.

"Oshogatsu", the Japanese New Year. It is celebrated on January 1, and literally means, "the right month" or the proper month to earmark the coming year – to set things up properly by first closing out the old year, so that the new year can be welcomed and opened afresh. According to the lunar calendar, the New Year's celebration was opened by the ceremony known as oniyarai, "demon-driving."

This occurred at Setsubun, the period when winter passed into spring, and to-day it is generally practised at that time and is quite independent of the New Year's festival. In some sections of the country, however, it has been moved forward to New Year's eve, December 31st.

This ceremony consists of the scattering of parched beans in four directions in the house, crying at the same time, "Out with the devils, in with the good luck." Though sometimes performed by a professional who goes from door to door.

The custom may be traced back to ancient days when the demons expelled personified the wintry influences and the diseases attendant on them. It is still customary in some regions to gather up beans equal in number to the age plus one, and wrap them with a coin in a paper which has been previously rubbed over the body, to transfer ill luck. This package is then flung away at a cross-roads, with the idea that thereby ill luck is gotten rid of.

Essential elements of preparations : For the Japanese, the term purity is crucial when concerning religion and culture – this concept literally and figuratively reflects the New Year celebrations, or rather the preparations for it. People mainly strive to the end of the previous year with a "clean slate", which means sorting all things out, handling disputes, settling the debts, etc.

For that reason, people throw special parties focused mainly on friends, during which they memorize things from the previous year.


* Bijenti Irengbam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 05 January 2023.



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