Of Midnight Kisses, White Shirts and Firecrackers: Reflections on New Year’s Eve

Updated on November 12, 2019 in Chinese Culture
1 on January 7, 2015

At the last night of 2014, while mindlessly  watching the fireworks for  the New Year’s parties across the previous time zones around the globe, I started to ponder about the different New Year’s Eve traditions and customs from various cultures,including Brazil and China. I also remembered it was the one year anniversary of my first published article in DigMandarin.com.

This reflection came to me due to recalling an experience lived by a Chinese friend of mine, who happens to be married to a Brazillian. She told me about her shock when she saw her husband complete dressed in white to New Year’s Eve, since in China,white is worn mostly during funerals,in the same way black is worn in Western funerals. When she first told me this, I simply chuckled at the little anecdote of cultural shock. But on December 31st 2014, I contemplated on this phenomenon.

For those who don’t know, here in Brazil  is customary to dress entirely in white,in order to have peace and health in the following year.This tradition has some variants where other colors represent other wishes for the upcoming year ,e.g. Pink to bring love into life and gold to bring prosperity. Another custom we have is to celebrate New Year’s on the beach, since it is summer here in the Southern hemisphere. On the beach, we skip over seven little waves and make a wish for the new year during each skip.

Furthermore in my train of thought, I remembered reading in some books on how the fireworks in Mainland China during the Global and the Chinese New Year’s  were mostly noise producing firecrackers, while us, Westerners, prefer colorful aerial fireworks.Coincidently, the television started displaying the fireworks shows around the world.

As I compared the traditions between these two great countries,I inevitably remembered of the United States and the few customs I had the chance to glimpse through movies, television and the news. They all mentioned the famous “Midnight Kiss”. To be honest, I never understood the point of that tradition. As a Brazillian, it seemed so silly to me the notion of kissing a random person simply because its midnight.The only thing sillier than that are those vague resolutions people insist to making, along with the whole “New Year, New Me” clichés.However, I considered that Americans might also find that our traditions of skipping waves and wearing white clothes to be just as ridiculous as kissing a stranger at Midnight is for us, Brazillians.

And so, I realized on the first night of 2015, how all peoples of the world really are the same, underneath their different languages, cultures and values. This statement is undeniable when we consider that all these silly New Year’s traditions are all rooted on a single thing: Hope. People do all of these things in the hope that life will get better, that the worst is already past us. We all hope that the future will bring us happiness in the form of either health, money, love or even simple stability.The fact that we want to learn another language shows our desire to learn more about a different culture and make new connections with other people around the world. It is with this reflection that I begin this New Year and hope it will reflect on my Mandarin studies and my contributions to the DigMandarin community, which took me in so well. We


Happy 2015

And you,reader of this post, what are the New Year’s traditions in your country? Leave a comment down below or on Dig Mandarin’s Facebook page telling us about it.

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