Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's a grand ol' place that can celebrate New Year's Day not once, not twice, but four times a year. We usually have our New Year's party on "Old New Year" (celebrated in Kazakhstan on January 14, on the Russian Orthodox calendar), and yesterday marked the beginning of year 4706 in Chinese astrological reckoning (though the symbols are a bigger deal in KZ than the date). You may know 2008 to be the "Year of the Rat," but thanks to a link this time last year from Sean Roberts, I am happy to say that from February 7 through January 25, 2009, we're in the "Year of the Earth Rat!" Each of the twelve animals of the zodiac is associated with 5 different elements, so a complete Chinese astrological cycle comes 'round every 60 years.

In our house, we have a Fire Rat, a Water Tiger and a Fire Ox. Based on birth year, we used to think that a friend was also a Tiger, but his early February birthday made him a Chinese Ox instead.

So far in 2008, we've missed 3 opportunities to throw the annual New Year's party. Luckily, there's one more New Year's to go -- this time, we're aiming for
Nauryz (Persian-Zoroastrian? New Year/Spring Equinox) in March.


Anonymous said...

What do you think of Nauryz celebration in Kazakhstan? Did you have an opportunity to participate in celebration in different cities? what are the differences and similarities?
Thank you.Danica

Nyura said...

Hi Danica,

I've never had the luck to be in KZ for a Nauryz celebration, but they seem to be getting bigger and bigger every year (especially more in the southern cities. Less in the regions closer to Russia)

Opinions vary on celebrating Nauryz -- it's relatively recent and kind of manufactured, since all things Asian were surpressed during Soviet times. I think it makes perfect sense to adopt Nauryz as a national tradition. It's not just a Kazakh ethnic holiday, but celebrated in various names from the Mediterranean across to the 'Stans. Almost all cultures around the world have some sort of spring festival (even Christian Easter has roots in spring rites).