Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's!

2010 was the Year of the Metal Tiger

True Thai Restaurant will be open on New Year's Eve, but we will be closed on New Year's Day. The Western calendar's New Year's Day, that is. Not everyone celebrates the New Year on the same day.

It used to be that you had to be an Asian astrologer to figure out which day was Thai New Year's, also known as Songkran, but now Songkran (สงกรานต์) always falls on April 13-15. In Burma they call this celebration Thingyan, in Lao it is Songkan, and in Khmer (Cambodian) it is called Chaul Chnam Thmey. Nepalese New Year's fall on April 12-15. In the Indian state of Assam, they celebrate on April 14-15, which is the same as the Bengali New Year.

Tamil New Year's (Puthandu) comes on January 14, the same day as the Punjabi/Sikh New Year in Punjab.

But it is not just Asians who celebrate different New Year's. Ancient Babylonians celebrated in March, and the Iranians still party in March as do many parts of India. The Coptic Church in Africa celebrates Neyrouz in September.

Did you know that Rosh Hashanah is really the Jewish New Year's? And that it's always in the fall? The Vietnamese (Tét), Koreans (Seollal) and Chinese still vary New Year's from year to year due to their use of a lunar calendar, but the Japanese went Western in 1873.

Fortunately, few other cultures drink on New Year's like Americans do, but with the adoption of the Western calendar by most of the world that is changing. Even Thais have been partying on December 31st since 1941.

But even the British didn't agree on New Year's Day falling on January 1 until 1752, 152 years after Scotland picked that day.

And, if you are Muslim, you already had your New Year's on December 7. I'm also pretty sure you didn't have any alcohol to celebrate Ras as-Sana al-Hijreya.

In any language you like, Happy New Year's!

2011 is the Year of the Metal Rabbit
(the bell is optional)