Li Ke, 20 years old, hometown — Heze, Shandong province, student
Chinese New Year is an ancient holiday. Unlike the Western New Year, the Chinese do not have a constant start date. Every year the date is different.
The history of the holiday comes from the myth about beast Nian, whose name means «Year». Nian comes on the first day of the holiday to attack people, take crops and livestock.
We decorate the house to protect from the beast: paste outside with different patterns of red paper, write a pair of inscriptions and hang pictures with wishes of happiness, health and longevity, and hand everywhere red lights. Red is not accidental, it is the main colour. According to legend, the beast got scared of the boy in red clothes. After that people began to decorate houses and wear clothes of red colour.
Before the Chinese New Year, we carefully are cleaning up everything. Cleaning is a symbol of purity and the new beginning, therefore we clean the house from failures and prepare it for happiness.
On New Year eve my family gathering all together at the table. Usually, we richly cook for celebratory dinner. Mom and I are cooking favourite family meals. Traditionally, we should have meat and fish on the table and dumplings. These dishes represent the main wish of son birth.
All the family members are in hurry to gather at the festive table. Everyone returns home from different cities and countries. I also will go home at New Year. Usually, due to such excitement, it is almost impossible to buy tickets for a plane or train.
The festive night ends with fireworks and firecrackers, bought in advance. According to legends, bright lights scare away evil spirits and bring peace and happiness to the house.
Ekaterina Tkach, 27 years old, hometown — Tel-Aviv, housewife
The Jewish New Year called Rosh Hashanah. Considered as the day of world creation and the day of judgment. The main task of the holiday is to remember everything that happened this year, to confess misdeeds and sincerely repent of them.
From Rosh Hashanah begins 10 days of prayer and repentance — Days of awe. And ends with another holiday Yom Kippur — a day of atonement.
One of the bright traditions of the Jewish New year is to blow into the shofar, the ram's horn. A symbolic act that demonstrates the sacrifice of the believer.
The main fruit of the Jewish New Year is pomegranate. Honey on the table to the upcoming year to be sweet. The wish of a sweet year is a traditional New Year wish.
Often served on the table fish with the head, because of expression «I am the head and not the tail». Also, the name of the holiday Rosh Hashanah literally translates as «head of the year». We also prepare carrots to cut into circles, the symbol of the gold coin, because New Year determines financial issues. Bread Halwa in the shape of a wreath obligatory baked. The bread symbolizes the cyclical nature of time.
During New Year forbidden to eat bitter and sour food, otherwise, next year will bring grief and misfortune.
Regina Kim, 29 years old, hometown — Seoul, manager and translator
The most important holiday in Korea is the Korean New Year — Seollal. Seollal does not have a clear date and celebrated on the first day of the New Year according to the lunar calendar, usually at the end of January or mid-February. Sollal is the first day of spring according to the Korean lunar calendar.
The celebration of the Eastern New year, also called Chinese New Year in Korea lasts for several days. Therefore, many shops, cafes and other places do not work.
On the Korean New Year, we have to come to the older relatives for a tradition called «sebe». A special ceremony for which we dress up in national costumes hanbok and bow to older relatives. The elders give us money or sebeton. The tradition is honoured and kept by almost all the Koreans.
There is an interesting custom associated with Seollal. It's called «tol». The point is that on New Year all Koreans automatically become one year older. In ancient times, people did not celebrate birthdays because was believed that all people getting old for one year on this day.
Traditionally on Seollal, we cook a cake made from rice flour — ttok. In addition, each family cooks a spicy hot soup ttokkuk with dumplings. All dishes have to be cooked on the 15th day of Seollal — the first day of the full moon.Formally, In Korea, the New Year celebrated on January 1, but for us, it is rather an extra day off when we can stay at home.