The new year around the TRU world
The beginning of a new year is observed differently around the world with a variety of celebrations and even on different dates. TRU’s community of international students offers a window into these celebrations and the ways they differ from Canadian traditions.
Pia Pennekamp is a first-year Journalism student from Germany.
The new year celebrations that Pennekamp described share both similarities and differences to Canadian traditions. According to Pennekamp, a German New Year’s Eve celebration begins with a family dinner and classic TV shows, like Dinner for One. Pennekamp also mentioned a traditional new year’s punch called glühwein which is similar to mulled wine.
“After dinner, younger people go to the big cities or downtown to party. We go clubbing until 7 a.m. Next day you have to go for a walk with your family called New Year’s Day walk,” Pennekamp said.
Drinking until dawn and spending time with family are similar to Canadian traditions, but some other German celebrations are not.
“We do ‘iron pouring,’ which is basically that you pour melted metal in water and whatever you can see in the hard iron is what you’ll get in the new year. For example, a heart means love,” Pennekamp said.
When asked how important new year celebrations are to Germans compared to Canadians, Pennekamp said, “In Canada it seems like it’s way less important. I’ve never really seen everybody out on the street and bars still close fairly early.”
Raj Kumar is a fourth-year Business Student from India.
According to Kumar, New Year’s Eve is celebrated the same way similar to all Western countries, but with a religious component. Christians go to late night Mass and Hindus go to temple on Jan. 1. They usually wear new clothes. Kumar also said that most young Indian people party on Dec. 31 like people do in Canada.
Kumar said that along with the similar Dec. 31 celebrations, his family celebrates the traditional Tamil New Year in April.
“The state which I come from celebrates the new year on April 16. This is the day when it’s very traditional and family gatherings happen and they celebrate it similar to your Easter family gathering,” Kumar said.
Kumar said that Singapore, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Malaysia also celebrate the Tamil New Year.
Michelle Hsu is a third-year Bachelor of Arts communication major from China.
Hsu said that New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate with friends like it is in Canada. “Generally speaking, I would set my watch on New Year’s Eve, and do count down with my friends. Normally we treat ourselves to some fancy meal at night,” Hsu said. Hsu also said that it is too cold in Canada for many of the outdoor New Year’s Eve events common in China.
Hsu also spoke of the traditions that her family observes for Chinese New Year, which takes place on different days of the year, falling between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, depending on the year.
“In the past, this is a day for kids to get all-you-can-eat candies. In China, every family would have a box of different candy for the children,” Hsu said. Hsu went on to talk about the giving of “Red Packets” from older to younger members of families.
“This is a must, since people put cash in it, and more importantly, this is a symbol of luck,” Hsu said. Hsu said that her family sometimes rang in the new year by gambling on Mahjong or other games.
“I think everyone deserves a good start of a year. And some nice food and some cash should be a good start,“ Hsu said.
Canadian TRU student Martin McFarlane spent his new year learning about British new year celebrations while studying abroad in Manchester. Here’s what McFarlane had to say about celebrating the new year in Britain:
“Thanks to the shared history of the two countries, celebration of the new year across the pond in England is quite similar to how it is in Canada. It is a time to be among your friends, family and significant others and reflect on the past year. England has a milder climate and minimal snow, which makes going out for New Year’s Eve much more appealing. Many of Manchester’s most popular clubs had New Year’s Eve parties which, combined with British drinking culture, spilled out onto the streets and turned the city centre into drunken celebratory chaos after fireworks shot off at town hall.
“A British tradition around the holiday season is to go for a walk with your friends and family. We drove to a trail that led to a wonderful waterfall and made it to the base of the falls just before dusk. New Year’s Eve celebrations spilled over into New Year’s Day and left many English pubs just as full as the night before around time for dinner.
“England as a nation seems to be much more outspoken than Canada when celebrating holidays and the new year is the best example of this. From sundown until everyone passes out in the early morning, drunken chants and cheering, fireworks, music and sirens engulf all of the already rowdy major centres throughout the U.K. Canada, maybe because of its colder climate or social expectations of politeness, takes a bit more of a reserved stance. While drinking and being out with friends are important aspects of Canadian New Year’s, we keep it (mostly) under control, whereas the British take it to a whole new level.”