Rosh Hashanah, Happy Jewish New Year, and because we want to see off this bloody year, and pray to Yahweh for a better new year, here is when and where all our cultures see out the old and bring in the new.
The Chinese New Year: And sitting down for our annual Chinese New Year celebration with Wendy Wu Tours in Dublin in January at Chai Yo we gave sympathy and Chinese tea (and every food known to man that you can eat with chopsticks) for the plight of the poor people of Wuhan.
Little did we know, of course, that we would be suffering too within weeks. The Year of the Rat should have been a warning.
Next year when it will be celebrated in February will be the Year of the Ox and he is much more our reliable carrier of all our human burdens.
And rest assured I’ll be back in Chai Yo next year with Wendy’s friends, the Two Johns, before hopefully we follow The Son and Heir out to Wuhan’s neighbour Chongqing.
Iran the bells
Nowruz (Iranian New Year): And there is a diary date in my calendar which I can’t bring myself to delete – my trip to Iran which was deferred after the Americans fell out with them again and then this virus came along.
I do hope that when I do get out there it’s in a March when they celebrate Springtime when it coincides with the Northward Equinox.
They trumpet in the day, colour eggs and eat a hearty soup, Ash-e-Reshteh noodle soup.
Sri Lanka is my cup of tea
Sri Lankan New Year: And here we have two Sri Lankan cultures celebrating a date, April 14.
Aluth Avuradda, the Sinhalese New Year, marks the end of the harvest and is one of only two occasions when the sun is directly above Sri Lanka.
You’ll be eating small oil cakes called kavum and plantain dishes.
The Tamils of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka celebrate with new clothes, music, sweets and rice colour kolams (street art).
The Tamil Diaspora too celebrate April 4… so Malaysia, yes, and The Maldives too where one pasty-faced Scotsman once became an honorary member of the staff’s football and cricket teams. Yes, Mr Jim is coming back to Kuramathi.
While if you’re Irish (lucky you) you’ll know about the greatest Sri Lankan-Irishwoman, my old friend Tess De Kretser and her Olcote in Ceylon resort.
Ethiopia will take years off you
Enkutatash, Ethiopia: And this has become a fixture on my calendar in Dublin over recent years thanks to my friends at Ethiopian Airlines.
It, of course, takes years off you, not just the meaty food which you scoop up with your bread, and wine and Ethiopian coffee.
But also because it’s on the Julian Calendar which means that this will take seven years off you.
Scotland, the home of Hogmanay
Scottish Hogmanay: And in the words of the greatest dustman in television soap opera Norman ‘Curly’ Watts who decided the Scots owned New Year.
Well, they do own Hogmanay. And why Hogmanay which is what we call New Year’s Eve.
An early reference to the term is from The Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence as deriving from the Greek word agia mine or ‘holy month’.
More like a hooley though as many libations are taken to keep out the cold.
Which is probably where the tradition of bringing coal, shortbread and whisky with your when you go first-footing, being the first person to cross someone’s threshold (first-footing).
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO WHOEVER YOU ARE AND WHEREVER YOU ARE