Chinese and Kazakh new years

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The Gregorian calendar, which has twelve months, is the most commonly known scheme in most parts of the world. A new year starts on January 1st, according to this calendar, and new year festivities take place on this date. There are other new year festivities celebrated by other cultures and nations around the world that are not adapted from the Gregorian calendar. The Kazakhs and the Chinese have two such new years. The Kazakhs have a new year celebration called Nauryz, while the Chinese people have a new year celebration known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festivals. These two celebrations mark the beginning of a new year among the two groups of people mentioned above. Additionally, the two celebrations show some similarities with small differences.

Kazakhs are a group of people who are mainly found in Kazakhstan, and these people are believed to have originated from Turkic as well as Mongol tribes (Olcott, 1987). One of the important aspects portrayed by the Kazakhs is the Nauryz, which is their New Year celebration. The origin of Nauryz is unclear, but it is believed to have been developed before Islam. For this reason, Nauryz is not associated in any way with religion (Kobzeva & Shachek, 2015). Nauryz comprises the oldest holidays and has been observed for more than five millennia. The word Nauryz has several meanings which are close in meaning and significance. One of the meanings of the word is ‘New year”. The word also means ‘new day,’ and as a celebration, it has been observed for many decades along the generation line of the Kazakhs. Most of the communities that celebrate the holiday are found in the Middle East and Asia (Kobzeva & Shachek, 2015). The holiday is in a way related to Navruz, which is the new year of the Iranians. Moreover, Nauryz is celebrated on March, which is called Nauryz (Kusmidinova & Boldyreva, 2013).

One of the significances of Nauryz is the promotion of harmony and unity to the nation. In addition to that, the state of Kazakhstan has embraced the festival as a good way of promoting tourism (Koitanova, Zhumaldinova, & Amanbekova, 2014). Some customs are also associated with this holiday, and it encourages people to be kind and intellectual, and appreciate the old. As a tradition, the Kazakhs prepare for this celebration early and some of the activities that are carried out in the preparation are cleaning of houses, good dressing in a traditional way, and preparation of rich tables (Sadikova, 2014). The Kazakhs also hold a popular belief that how one begins the year spends it that way. Nauryz is a symbol of happiness, wealth, goodness, and love (Sadikova, 2014). The celebrations also incorporate the act of forgiveness as people leave all the burden behind and begin a new year in peace.

During the celebration day, most cities and towns turn into festival midpoints and felt yurts, which are traditional houses, are made (Kobzeva & Shachek, 2015). Moreover, dastarkhan, which is a rich table, is erected in each of these houses. Many performances are also held in these cities and towns, and a lot about the Kazakh’s culture is depicted. Apart from wearing traditional clothes, Kazakhs’ songs are sung, and musical instruments are played. Traditional games of the Kazakh people are also played, and famous artists perform in concerts during the celebration (Kobzeva & Shachek, 2015). The main dish that is served during this holiday is Nauryz kozhe, which is very significant for the observance (Sadikova, 2014). The meal is prepared purposely for the new year celebrations among the Kazakhs. Other traditional meals that are made during this celebration are kuyrdark, beshbarmak, and baursak (Sadikova, 2014).

The Chinese New Year, which is also known as Spring Festival, is an important holiday for the Chinese people. The holiday is based on the Chinese calendar. Since China embraced the Gregorian calendar in 1911, two new year celebrations have been in place, which have made the Spring Festivals become moderately abandoned (Bing-zhong, 2007). The celebrations are held from one day before the day of celebration to the fifteenth day of the first month of the calendar (Welch, 1997). The first day of the Chinese calendar corresponds to a day between January 21st and February 20th. The Chinese New Year is many years old and is dated to have begun before the Qin dynasty. With time, the way various dynasties celebrated the holiday varied and changes were progressively incorporated into the celebration (Welch, 1997). The Shang Dynasty is assumed to be the one that initiated the celebration

The Springs Festival has a great historical significance, and it believed to be centuries old. Additionally, the celebration is associated with some myths, one being its purpose of honoring and remembering the ancestors (Tourism Board, 2012). The festival is observed mainly by the Chinese, who are primarily found in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines among other countries with Chinese population (Ip & Ip, 2008). Due to its intensity as a holiday, The Springs Festival have become adopted by the neighboring countries of China. One day before the beginning of the celebrations, the families gather together and reunite by having a dinner. The families also clean their house as a symbol of getting rid of any bad omen before the new year is ushered. The primary color used during the celebration is red, which is applied on doors and windows (Ip & Ip, 2008).

In 1912, the China embraced the western calendar which has January 1 as the beginning of the new year (Welch, 1997). However, the Chinese New Year is still observed among the Chinese population. The celebrations that are held today are different from how they were carried out a long time ago by the Chinese’s ancestors (Welch, 1997). For instance, modern people regard the holiday as an opportunity to take a break from work. The old celebrations involved reunion of families and improvement of their ties. In the Chinese calendar, the Chinese New Year was the most important, to the extent that business activities could be paused to carry out the celebrations (Tourism Board, 2012). The holiday also constituted some rites which were meant to attract good luck which was regarded to offer the people long life. The ceremony could not take place without feasting. The families gathered together and shared a meal, a fish being included to symbolize abundance. Noodles, which symbolized a long life, were also consumed (Welch, 1997).

The Nauryz of the Kazakh and the Chinese New Year portray some similarities. First, these two holidays are among the most celebrated worldwide and are adhered to by many people from different nations. The festivals have also been in existence for many years, as the communities that observed them passed the festivals from generation to generation. For this reason, the holidays are still significant and are seriously observed. Both Nauryz and Chinese New Year have five main activities that are done during the festivals. Nauryz celebration is preceded by cleaning of the house, and then cooking of traditional dishes, and decoration of the houses with flowers is done. Cleaning of the houses precedes Chinese New Year and then making of banners with new year’s messages, and preparation of particular foods is done. As seen above, the two festivals contain feasting, where food is prepared for sharing among the family members. Additionally, Nauryz and Chinese New Year both are ushered with a thorough cleaning of the houses to symbolize elimination of ill-fortunes and welcome the new year in peace.

Another notable similarity between Nauryz and Chinese New Year is their nonconformity to the Gregorian calendar. As mentioned above, the Nauryz is celebrated in March while the Chinese New Year falls between January and February. Furthermore, the two festivals are carried out in more than one day. Similarly, both Nauryz and Chinese New Year involving events such as games and entertainment. Contests are also part of the festivals and performances are done to create a good mood among the people. Lastly, the two festivals play one significant role among the societies that observe them; they promote unity and love. During the festivals, people gather to celebrate, and families reunite to strengthen their ties. These have always the primary objectives of the two festivals. Conversely, there are some small differences between Nauryz and Chinese New Year. First, both fall at different times of the Gregorian calendar. Secondly, Nauryz is not associated with religion while Chinese New Year has its origin from religion. Lastly, these festivals are observed by nations that have no close relationship, and are independent of each other.

In conclusion, Nauryz and Chinese New Year are two distinct celebrations that play a role of marking the beginning of a new year. As expounded above, the two holidays have been in existence for many years, and have been progressively handed down from generation to generation. Despite having many significant similarities, Nauryz and Chinese New Year are not related in any way. They are observed by two different groups of people and at different times of the year. During these holidays, a lot about the culture of the communities that observe the holidays is learned, and promotion of cultural heritage is achieved. Nauryz and Chinese New Years are paramount and interesting characteristics of the Kazakhs and Chinese culture respectively.

References

Bing-zhong, G. A. (2007). Two New Year Celebrations in the Chinese Calendar as One Rite of Passage: A Representation of the Relation of New Year and Spring Festival [J]. Journal of Renmin University of China, 1, 011.

Ip, K. C., & Ip, C. C. (2008). Chinese festivals in Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Greenhill Publication Co.

Kalysh, A. (2012). Traditional Games and Competitions, Gaieties and Holidays of Kazakhs as Cultural Phenomena in the Period of Domination by the Russian Empire. Sensus Historiae, 149-150. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://sensus-historiae.amu.edu.pl/index.php/sensus/article/view/20/19

Kobzeva, N. A., & Shachek, A. N. (2015). Kazakh Traditions.

Koitanova, A. Z., Zhumaldinova, D. Z., & Amanbekova, L. M. (2014). EVENT TOURISM AS THE SOLUTION IN FORMATION OF THE BRANDED TOURIST PRODUCT OF KAZAKHSTAN. Education and Science Without Borders, 5(9), 13.

Kusmidinova, M., & Boldyreva, A. (2013). Representation of a national holiday as a part of the conservation of cultural memory. Каспийский регион: политика, культура, экономика, 3(36), 278-280. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://kaspy.asu.edu.ru/files/3(36)/275-281.pdf

Olcott, M. B. (1987). The Kazakhs. Hoover Press.

Sadikova, R. K. (2014). NAURYZ HOLIDAY AND KAZAKH NATIONAL TRADITION – THE BASIS OF YOUNG PEOPLE EDUCATION. Science and world, 3(2), 6th ser., 231-232. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from http://scienceph.ru/d/413259/d/science-and-world–2-(6)-february-vol.-iii.pdf#page=231

Tourism Board, H. (2012). Hong Kong Chinese New Year celebrations: event guide . Hong Kong: Hong Kong Tourism Board.

Welch, P. B. (1997). Chinese New Year. Hong Kong: : Oxford University Press.

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