We have been stressing how important our similarities are for a little while now. Maybe a little too strongly. Our differences are very important as well. They are what help to define us and we don’t mean to belittle that AT ALL. Differences are most definitely worthy of celebration. Our similarities bring us together, help us relate to one another. Just like making new friends when you move to a new school or town. But our differences are what make us interesting. It is what allows us to shine.
Take Holidays as a very easy example of how we differ. No one celebration is more special than another. They are special to us for reasons that aren’t always apparent to an onlooker. Some of us practice very elaborate celebrations while others barely observe the same one. To me, they are all so interesting and unique. How, and why, each detail is included.
Most, if not all of us celebrate January 1st as the first day of the new year, according to the Gregorian Calendar. However, China has an incredible celebration with a riot of colors and sounds and smells that lasts for 23 days! Starting January 31st, many people clean their homes to welcome the Spring Festival. Red is a predominant color for the New Year, or Spring Festival, celebration. There are red posters with poems, red lanterns and Chinese Dragons dancing in the streets. The Dragons come in all colors, too. Unlike here in the states, the Chinese Government and many of the businesses are closed from the eve of the Festival through the seventh day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar.
Russia and Serbia observe two New Year celebrations as well. They have an informal celebration on the 14th of January, based on the Julian Calendar, called the Orthodox New Year or the Serbian New Year. This is generally less elaborate. It is now used more as a way for them to wind down at the end of the busy holiday season of Christmastide and the Gregorian New Year (January 1st). They enjoy a more quiet celebration with traditional large family meals, singing, and celebratory drinking.
Another country with a new year’s tradition all their own is Peru. They do celebrate with a festival of drinking, good foods and having lots of fun. However, they also believe in bringing in the new year in new duds. Underwear to be specific. Yellow underwear. Yep, you read correctly. The belief that wearing new clothes signifies a new beginning and the yellow signifies luck. You can also start the new year in red (for love) or green (for money) if you can’t find yellow or have love or money on your new year’s agenda instead. You could also eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the upcoming year, to bring yourself luck.
Hopi Indians have a ceremony called the “Prayer-Offering Ceremony” that is related to the Sun and coincides with the Winter Solstice which is celebrated by many earth-based belief systems as away to celebrate the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. It is one of the Hopi’s most sacred ceremonies because it is when they say prayers for the New Year and wish everyone prosperity and good health.
So, you see? That is just one holiday and we only got to 4 countries. Don’t even get me started on Christmas. Or should I say Yule? Or Hanukkah? Orrrr Kwanzaa, Ta Chiu, Sviata Vechera, Ganna. Hahahaha, you get the idea. Each is amazing and significant, but only celebrated in one or two countries. Though more and more they spread to other countries as we move around and share our traditions with others.
We’d love to hear more about your traditions. Please feel free to ask questions about a holiday tradition you’d like to hear more about. OR share your country’s holiday tradition for others to read about. Eventually we’ll have our question and answer board up for just that sort of thing but for now, we’d love to get a head start with our comments section below…..Thanks!!!