Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Today marks the birth of Jesus Christ. It is both a religious and cultural holiday. Some popular customs of Christmas are giving gifts, singing Christmas carols, exchanging Christmas cards, decorating trees with lights and ornaments, eating a special meal, and special church celebrations.

The new year is a time of renewal and a time that many people make resolutions for the coming year.


Happy New Year

The Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, will be celebrated on February 3. 2011. This is the the Year of the Rabbit. Each year is designated by one of twelve animals. Colorful calligraphy is used as a decoration at the front of the house. The Chinese New Year is determined by the second New Moon after the winter solstice.

The Vietnamese celebrate 2011 as Tet Tan Mao, the Year of the Cat. With the approach of the Lunar New Year, many Asians are celebrating with great family feasts. It is also customary for children to receive red envelopes full of money.

The Japanese expression for a new year’s greeting is “Kinga Shinnen.”  Although they do not celebrate Chinese New Year, February 3rd is Setsubun,  when people seek to drive out bad luck .  Roasted soybeans are thrown outside the front door by a male in the family.  Nowadays, sometimes people use peanuts instead of soybeans. The Japanese have a tradition of sending out postcards for the new year, similar to the way people send out Christmas cards in the United States.

The U.S. Postal Service has made commemorative Lunar New Year “Forever Stamps.” They are the fourth in a series of twelve Celebrating Lunar New Year Series, which began in 2008 with the Year of the Rat. These have a picture of tangerines on them, which are a symbol of good luck.

If you have any special traditions associated with celebrating the Lunar New Year, please e-mail with your tradition and which country you are from.