Jewish New Year
We flew back to Israel for the second time on Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish calendar consists of quite a few celebrations and holidays that are divided into “high” (very important) and “low” (significant, but less important) holidays. The month of Tishrei is the most jam packed with three High, holy holidays. On the Gregorian calendar this is usually September-October.
The first of Tishrei is the Jewish New Year called Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish calendar is ordered according to the lunar cycle, unlike the Gregorian Calendar that I am used to, which is centered on the solar cycle. Days begin and end at sundown. The end of the week stretches from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
For this whole, spectacularly important month we felt honored and excited to have been able to be right in the heart of Jerusalem.
Rosh Hashanah, naturally, starts off the festive, though serious, season.
As a little Startpage (like Google, but private!) search would tell you, Rosh Hashanah (translates to “head of the year”) is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. There’s a special remembrance and recognition of their (and all mankind’s) dependance on God as the Creator and Sustainer. This is the day we proclaim the God of Abraham as King of the Universe! But remembering the first humans created reminds us of the Fall from grace into sin. This day begins the 10 sober days of repentance before the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.
Shofar blasts (100!) represent the coronation of a king, but also serve as a call to repentance.
Eating apples dipped in honey and other sweet foods for a “sweet” year.
Blessing one another with the words “Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim,” “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”
Tashlich, a special prayer said near a body of water (an ocean, river, pond, etc.), in evocation of the verse, “And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Western/Gregorian New Year
I know all about this one! I grew up celebrating this new year every January 1st in the USA. Some acquaintances back home obviously didn’t get the memo about my traveling the world and invited me, as usual, to midnight bowling. However, this year we were in Bali, Indonesia, only a five minute walk from the beach. Fireworks went on for a few hours or so over the water. The best part was celebrating 13 hours before everyone back home! Traditions differ slightly depending on the area of the country or just by country completely.
Champagne for 21 and over and sparkling cider for children and 20 year olds (US only).
Staying awake until the clock glows 12 midnight.
Watching the countdown and ball drop in NYC.
Making a lot of noise when it is 12 midnight.
Making New Years resolutions.
Chinese New Year
My first experience with the Chinese New Year was in Pai, Thailand about a week ago, on February 8th. Pai is a small, sleepy town of 4,000 inhabitants. The celebration of the new year here wasn’t much more than a series of fireworks that made the all the dozens of stray dogs howl through the night.
Only after talking with a friend in Jakarta, Indonesia did I get a taste of how wide spread this celebration is. Apparently there are a good number of Chinese people in Jakarta, so the celebration is a full day of festivities. Edward told me all about the dragon Chinese dance called Barongsay that is preformed in the streets. I knew about this one, but only because of a Chinese friend in NC. An aspect that surprised me was the angpao envelopes. A toy tree is set up with leaves of envelopes filled with different amounts of money. This is to show gratitude for the past year’s sustenance. You can feed angpao envelopes to the barongsay dance dragon. Edward himself got an angpao with 300,000 rupiah! (That’s $22.)
Barongsay, Chinese dragon dance
Lots of fireworks
Discounts in all the malls
2016 is the year of the monkey. That’s funny because my usually monkey-less life has seen a good measure of the suspicious creatures this year.
We had the unexpected chance to watch monkeys swing about and do their monkey business outside the aviary park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We could have gone to the Monkey Forest, a monkey sanctuary, in Ubud, Bali, but the monkeys there are known for being undeterred grabbers of jewelry, cameras, wallets, anything. A fearless creature, nonetheless a potential carrier of rabies, was enough for us to easily let that chance slide.
But another chance arrived!
We took a slow boat journey over to Lombok from Bali on the way to a few little Indonesian islands called the Gili islands. A driver escorted us through the mountainous, scenic route to the harbor in Lombok. This included a good stretch of drive through monkey forest. It was literally a forest, with a road through it, filled with medium sized monkeys. They sat on the road guardrails and peered intensely as we passed. They scavenged for food, groomed themselves, trotted around towing babies and overall made me uneasy.
We asked our driver, “If you stopped, would the monkeys jump through the windows?” seeing as they were down…
“You want to stop?” He promptly stopped.
“No! That’s ok!” we yelled.
Well that was scary. 😛
If there is one animal in this world I don’t trust, it’s gonna be a monkey.
Welcome to the new year, whichever one you celebrate. 🙂