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
And if you’ve felt too silly to ask what it is, the food that gives its name to Liverpudlians as in Liverpool scouse, this week’s Hungry and Thursday is all about Liverpool scouse and stews around the world.
Scousers have been getting their voices heard (and what’s new there?) these past few weeks, culminating in their fireworks party as they lifted the Premier League title at Anfield yesterday.
But seeing this is a food and drink post, and I already give you a sporting post, My Sporting Weekend every weekend, I’ll stick to scouse.
In a Stew
Which will stick to you teeth or in them. Because it’s really just stew with extras.
I first had myself a plate of scouse in Albert Dock, Liverpool, as I waited for my interview at the Liverpool Daily Post back in the 1990s.
I had pulled a sickie to attend and was to go on and stare inside the studio where the British morning magazine programme This Morning was televised, only for the camera to turn on me.
Just the job
Which is when I got a shiver down my back as I thought of my boss’s wife watching from up in Aberdeen and reporting to Jim that I was really down on Merseyside when I should have been at my desk.
Still, I got the job so it wouldn’t have mattered.
Back to the scouse and the word derives from ‘lobscouse’ which was a Scandinavian and Northern German stew brought to Liverpool by sailors.
The Liverpudlians, of course, reciprocated and sent exports of their own to these parts… The Beatles. And you can hear all about that in the city they made their home, Hamburg.
Hamburgers… and stew
On Stefanie Hempell’s Beatles tour (and you won’t get better).
Scouse consists of mutton, lamb (often neck), or beef with vegetables, typically potatoes, carrots, and onions. Serve with pickled beetroot or pickled red cabbage and bread.
Ethiopia and the world
While I leave my Liverpool-born son to make his way back from the festivities to Scotland, or indeed the phone call to bail him out of jail, I’ll take you on a gristlestop tour around the world of stew.
Meat of Africa
Ethiopian chicken stew: And I’ll miss those Ethiopian New Years in Dublin which I shared with my friends Carole, Lorcan, Tony and my Queen of Ethiopia Meseret.
Because Enkutatash runs to the old calendar which means that you actually lose time. I, of course, lose all sense of time when the wine starts flowing which I only do to soak up the Ethiopian stew which you eat with your hands soaking it up with bread.
Bosanski Ionac, Bosnia & Herzegovina: And they love their homely food in the Balkans and it unites the different cultures and traditions.
Carbonnade, Flanders, Belgium: And the brave soldiers who went to the Front in the First World War would take their pleasures where they could.
So that meant wine, women and song… or in Ieper, dark beer (there’s lots of it in this dish), women (they’re the same the world over) and drinking shanties. All right up a Tommy’s street and the best people to go with are GTI Travel and Visit Flanders.
You’d be mistaken for thinking that I’m always an accidental tourist. I do like to plan ahead particularly when it comes to our great annual festivals…. Christmas, New Year, Enkutatash.
My first Christmas and New Year invites came in this week. More about Christmas another time apart of course from using it as an excuse to reprise this picture…
But straight to Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year which I will be celebrating with my friends from Ethiopian Airlines in Dublin on September 12 as I have been doing these last two years.
And don’t you think I get younger (and better looking) each year?
That’s because the Ethiopians use an ancient Christian calendar and it is seven years behind our standard Gregorian calendar that we use in the West. So on September 12 it is the first day of 2012.
We reckoned you might want to be there in Addis on the day so we found you a return flight to Addis Abbaba on September 11 and returning on September 18 from £1692 (€1900). Visit http://www.ethiopianairlines.com.
Drop in on Boris
If you were looking at happenings in London on television through the gaps in your fingers then you wouldn’t be alone.
Truth is though that I wanted to be there… and not just to tell that eejit who was playing the glockenspiel through all the interviews where to stick his, er, stick.
Of course, we take London for granted because it is our back yard but we shouldn’t. It is one of the world’s great cities if not THE great city.
And it is so easy and cheap to get there. Ryanair flies one-way to London Southend for €12.99 one way among other cut-price flights across the continent. Visit http://www.ryanair.com.
If you’re a bit of an oul luvvies like me, are a big Carnival fan, or you’ve something in mind yourself then you’ll want to know that Aer Lingus has a great London offer just waiting for you to avail of.
Collect Double Avios points along the way on your flight to Gatwick for flights booked and flown between July 25 and August 31. Visit http://www.fly.aerlingus.com.
Happy 80th Shannon
And doesn’t Shannon look good on it.
Eighty years ago this month a Belgian tri-liner Sabena Daviola Marchetti S-73 landed on the old Rineanna airfield before its passengers were flown off via Foynes on a flying boat, while 500 excited locals watched the plane fly back to Belgium.
Shannnon goes from strength to strength and is a major economic driver while also carrying us to where we want to go and bringing friends, family and visitors here.