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I’m Colin Lowther.
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Every year on December 31st millions of people around the world stay up late.
They stay awake until the clock turns to midnight.
They do this to celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another.
When the clock reaches midnight, everyone cheers and shouts.
Some people kiss someone they love.
A New Year’s celebration can be a fun celebration with friends or family.
It is a good time to think about the past.
But it is also a good time to think about your hopes for the future.
However, did you know that if you live in a large city, such as San Francisco in the
United States or London in England, you may see New Year’s celebrations all year?
This is because people have come to these cities from all around the world.
They bring their traditions and celebrations with them.
And not everyone celebrates the new year on same day.
Russian people celebrate "Novy Gode” on January 14.
The Assyrian New Year is called Kha b-Nisan.
It is celebrated on April 1st.
And people from Thailand celebrate the New Year in April as well.
They call the celebration the Songkran Festival.
Today’s Spotlight is on different New Year’s celebrations like these from around the world.
In the country of Vietnam, people celebrate the new year with the holiday Tet Nguyen Dan,
or "Tet" Holiday.
This is the festival of first days.
It marks the beginning of the lunar new year.
This celebration is on different days each year.
This is because the time of celebration is based on the moon.
But it is usually around late January or early February.
During Tet, people often return to their family homes.
It is important to begin a new year clean, happy, and full of good luck.
So, people clean their homes.
They pay debts.
They may display a New Year’s tree in their home to keep away evil spirits.
It can be a kumquat, peach, apricot or tangerine tree.
When the clock strikes midnight on the new year, people make as much noise as possible.
They shout and hit drums or other instruments.
They wish each other “chuc mung nam moi” or Happy New Year!
The Persian New Year happens in the month of March.
Three hundred million people around the world celebrate the Persian New Year, called “Nowruz”.
Nowruz marks the beginning of the Iranian calendar.
It is a 13-day-long celebration.
Masoud is a Persian man living in London.
He spoke to the BBC about what Nowruz means to him.
“For me, it has been brought down from the generations.
We have been told about the culture of Iran.
And the celebration of the new year.
Which brings new life to spring into action for the year.
And it is just a time to be full of joy!”
Nowruz is a time for families to be together.
People travel home if they are able.
They set a table with seven special things that begin with the Persian letter S. This
is called “Haft-sin”.
Each thing represents something different.
They may represent age, love, wealth, spring, new birth, health, and a sweet life.
People wish each other “aidé shomā mobārak”.
This means “Happy New Year!”
Hindu people living in the south of India celebrate “Ugadi”.
And Hindu people living in other parts of India celebrate “Gudi Padwa”.
These celebrations are similar in many ways.
There are two names because the people speak different languages.
But during both celebrations, people create beautiful designs on floors called rangoli.
They clean their houses and eat together with family.
And of course, they wish each other “naye saal ki shubh-kamnaye” which means, happy
Rupa Vaitla lives in India.
She believes these celebrations are important.
She spoke to the website DeccanChronicle.com.
“Every celebration has its own meaning.
It has been passed down from generations.
They all have a story to tell.
This is what makes us and our families grow stronger and closer.
We must teach our children the importance of every festival.
They are the ones to take our culture and history forward.”
There are many other times that people celebrate a new year.
Jewish people celebrate “Rosh Hashanah” at the end of September.
Muslim people mark “Murharram” around the same time.
People in Cambodia celebrate new year in April.
People in Korea celebrate at the end of January.
Each of these traditions are different.
But many involve cleaning, family, food, and remembering the past.
When someone celebrates a different tradition then we do, it can make us feel separate and
different from them.
But it does not have to.
In 2019, the Ethiopian New Year festival of Enkutatash was at the same time as the Chinese
Some Chinese people who were living and working in Ethiopia held a combined celebration.
Kang Rongyao moved from China to Ethiopia for work.
He told the website Xinhua:
“Celebrating the two events in one place together with my Ethiopian colleagues was
a special experience.
I was amazed and happy with the many traditions and cultural values of our two countries.
They value a family connection.
And the traditions of the celebration give me a look at the meaningful Ethiopian culture.
I think it is in many ways similar to the Chinese culture.”
New Year’s celebrations are a great time to think about your own life.
You can think about the past year or the future year.
It can also be a good time to think about people all around the world.
People celebrate different things in different ways.
But when we enter into a new tradition, we may be surprised to discover how similar we
are to one another.
Have you ever celebrated a New Year of another culture?
Did you learn anything new about the world?
Did you learn anything about yourself?
Tell us what you think.
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The writer of this program was Adam Navis.
The producer was Michio Ozaki.
The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States.
All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight.
You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net.
This program is called, ‘When Is a New Year?
New Year’s Celebrations Around the World’.
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