In China the 1 January New Year has no particular feelings attached to it. It is just a time to party or relax. While Christmas is viewed as a religious celebration which might challenge the Marxist ‘economic realities only’ ideology, New Year is at worst just another Western innovations. It even boosts economic consumption so is accepted as a public holiday.
The real or Chinese ‘New Year’ will come in a month’s time with genuine cultural and religious overtones. That is the time when people take a few days off, families which may have been separated by long distances get together and old customs respecting ancestors and elders are revived.
When you think of it, in Ireland too New Year’s Day does not have the buzz of celebration like Christmas, Easter or even Halloween. There are few memorable stories or customs associated with it. Maybe this is because it does not have a long history. Even the Church does not have a special feast to celebrate it.
The modern or Gregorian calendar, which situates New Year’s Day on 1 January, was not launched until 1582 and only in 1751 was it accepted in England (and Ireland.) It was not recognised in China until 1912. Today eleven cultures still do not recognise it and celebrate their New Year on dates ranging from March to June and even into our autumn (understandably especially in the Southern Hemisphere).
Looking forward to 2019, we are likely to feel an increase of China’s economic and cultural power and, to be fair, there are many useful lessons to be learnt from it.
In the meantime, A Happy ‘Western’ New Year to All!