Happy New Year everyone! No, I'm not a month late. Tomorrow begins the Lunar New Year (also called Chinese New Year even though other Asian countries celebrate) so get ready for the lion dances and fireworks and a whole lot of tradition.
Now it may seem odd to you that I am even mentioning this, but a good way to be part of this world, I think, is to understand the customs of others and to join in their celebrations. Tomorrow is the start of the year of the horse, but just exactly what does that mean and why is everyone's house so clean and why did men get haircuts today and what about the ban on buying shoes for the next month? Hey, these are just some of the questions you may encounter as you begin your observance, especially if it's for the first time.
Here in the United States today is not a legal holiday and in some communities you might not even see much happening, but go to China, Hong Kong, or Taiwan and it's a whole different story. Not only is today a holiday, but the first three days of the year are! What to do? Well no showering for one thing! There are tons of traditions, many of them superstitions about food, shopping, cleaning, and getting together with others on this day. It's really interesting to know about them and I urge you to look up more of the specifics (there really isn't room to tell you more here).
While you might not understand many of the customs, an important thing here is respect. If an individual or family you know is observing the day in a manner that seems odd to you, is it really your place to judge? Try to find out more and to understand the various customs. One important thing to remember - Lunar New Year is a celebration and in the end it's really about having a great time with family and friends, so don't sweat the small stuff.
Happy New Year!