DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WESTERN NEW YEAR AND LUNAR NEW YEAR

It is always exciting to learn about the different culture of other countries. Let’s join Ideal Travel Asia to find out the differences of celebrating New year of Western and Eastern people.

Time to celebrate

The first difference between New Year festivals in 2 sides in general would be the time of celebration. While Western countries usually regard January 1st as the beginning day of the New Year, Eastern nations, such as China, Vietnam, etc. which use lunar calendar, usually have their New year start later, around January or February or even April in Burma’s case.

Both the Western and the Chinese calendars are based on astronomical cycles: the rotation of the Earth (a day), the Earth’s orbit of the sun (a year) and the orbit of the moon around the Earth (a month). Calendar systems are complex because there is no fixed, regular number of days or lunar months to a year. The Chinese calendar is based on observations of the astronomical cycles, whereas the Western calendar uses set dates that approximate the astronomical cycles.

The Lunar calendar is based on the Moon’s cycle around the Earth (Source: Internet)

The Western calendar is a solar calendar — it is based on the Earth’s revolution of the sun and the progression of seasons. Consequently, every month has the same number of days from year to year, except during a leap year. The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar. It tracks time according to the cycle of the moon’s phases as well as the progress of the sun. In the Chinese calendar, each month begins with the occurrence of a new moon. This results in the Chinese calendar sometimes having an extra month included in the year, and from one year to the next, a variable number of days to make up the length of a year.

With the exception of February, each month in the Western calendar has 30 or 31 days, and there are 12 months every year. Since the months of the Chinese calendar are derived from the lunar cycle, which lasts 29.53 days on average, its months are either 29 or 30 days long. Like the Western calendar, the Chinese calendar’s ordinary year has 12 months, but a leap year, every two or three years, will include an extra 13th month. The ordinary year in the Chinese calendar runs between 353 and 355 days; a leap year has from 383 to 385 days.

As a result, the Lunar New Year festival usually starts later than the usual Western New Year.

Activities people do in these days

To greet the New Year, there are some common activities people usually do such as setting off fireworks, giving each other good wishes or decorating houses… On the other hand, there are different rituals between Western people and Eastern ones marking their own tradition.

People usually give “lucky money” to children or old people to wish them a strong age (Source: Internet)

In Eastern culture, the last day of the year is considered important so it is usually celebrated by a family gathering. For this occasion, traditional dishes as boiled chicken or stewed pork are cooked and offered to the ancestor to show the respect before being helped by the family. A ritual of lighting incense on ancestor altar and praying for a happy new year will be performed on the first day of the new year. This can be followed by people going to pagodas or visiting their relatives and friends to greet the new year. Children get “lucky money” from adults to mark a new age for the New Year.

People in the Western countries usually have parties on street and count down the time together (Source: Internet)

In the mean time, Western people usually gather around at parks or squares for counting down of the new year. They may go out for a walk or a meal after that. because the vacation during the Western New Year only lasts in 2 or 3 days, people have less time off than the Eastern ones.

The western people also have no time to “spring travel” and roam in the colorful streets. Some countries like Vietnam have the custom of “picking buds” by go for long famous pagodas for their families in the whole year. Overall, the Eastern nations seem to have many traditional and ancient customs in New Year occasion which are very special and impressed but each one has its own meaning and origin.

Intellection about a new year

To the Westerns, a new year means a new start, and people try to live better in a new year, however the Easterns may be more superstitious. To be more specific, Eastern people avoid many things to do in a new year because they are afraid of bad things will happen and it will last in the whole year. For example, they avoid criticizing each other in the first days of new year. Or on the first 3 days of January, they avoid cleaning or sweeping their house because of the fear loosing assets and money.

The atmosphere of New Year of the Lunar festival is very unique that reminds us of our roots (Source: Internet)

There are more and more interesting customs of the Eastern nations that celebrate new year on lunar calendar. If you have a chance, it is very amazing to come these countries and try celebrate New Year festival here once. You might want to come back in the next time.

If you want to know more about each Southeast Asia culture, you absolutely can check them out at: Tet Nguyen Dan in Vietnam, Top Festivals in Laos, Songkran Festival in Thailand

For more information about travel tips or booking advance services in this New Year festival in Southeast Asia, please do not hesitate to contact Ideal Travel Asia now!

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