Celebrating the New Year

Authored By:

Mara T.

Happy New Year! 

This month's blogpost I do not only want to talk about our New Years celebration on December 31, but also the Lunar New Year that I celebrated for the first time. 
My New Year's Celebration with my host family was very similar to how we welcome the New Year in Germany. We reflected on our 2022, expanded our bucket list for 2023, made New Year’s resolutions, and played some games. It rained, so we didn't have fireworks, but we lit some sparklers, which I like better than fireworks anyway. My highlight was that we made Raclette. I gifted my host parents a Raclette grill for Christmas, so we could make it on New Year's Eve. Making Raclette is a Swiss tradition that many families across Europe adopted for their New Year's Eve dinner. It consists of food, such as onions, potatoes, cheeses, or meat made on a table grill and to me means comfort food, quality time, and celebration at the same time. All the happier I was to have Raclette in the U.S. and being able to share this precious tradition with my host family. My host parents were excited to try it for the first time (even the Raclette cheese, which smells very strong) and in the end, they really liked it. My host mum even said that she enjoyed it so much that she would love to adopt the tradition of having Raclette on New Year's Eve anually. That made me really happy, for then they would always have something to remember me and my tradition when going into the new years. 
But this was not the only New Year's celebration I experienced this year. Even though my host sister Grace is from Thailand, her ancestors came from China. Therefore she normally celebrates Chinese holidays with her family. One of those holidays is the Lunar New Year. When my host parents and I heard of this, we knew that we wanted to celebrate it in the U.S. too. So on January 21, my host grandparents came over and we celebrated Chinese NewYear. Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first new moon of the calendar, which this yearfalls on January 22 in China, but because there is a 14 hour time diference between U.S. central time and the time in Hong Kong, we celebrated it on the 21st. We tried to stay true to the cultural celebration, but also added an American twist to it. We left, for example, the Christmas tree up and decorated it in red and gold ornaments. My host mom bought a lot of decoration, so it really felt like we were in China celebrating the Lunar New Year. Another thing that made it feel like we were in a different country was the food. Grace asked her grandma for the recipe to the soup she makes each year, so we could make it too. We also made jasmine rice, had curries that Grace brought from Thailand, and ordered pot stickers from a local Thai restaurant. Our desert consisted of different cookies and cakes we ordered on a website selling food from China, Japan, and Korea.
It was so interesting and exciting to experience a completely different New Year's celebration than the one I always celebrated. But for me, it was just as cool to share some of my own New Year's traditions with my host family and maybe even integrate them into their world. 

I hope you all have an amazing New Year and will accomplish all of your New Year’s resolutions!